Howie the Rookie
Revival of the play by
"This disciplined, sharply-acted restaging by Benet Catty will give you some idea of what all the fuss was about first time round.
Catty's production is a moving, smartly designed spectacle, with Vivash and Gough magnetic narrators, fluent in the art of the hollow boast and empty thrill."
Time Out * * * * (Critics Choice)
"Howie the Rookie...makes a welcome return at the Old Red Lion in this neatly choreographed production directed by Benet Catty.
It's easy to see why O'Rowe's drama made such a splash a decade ago. There are echoes of everything from Joyce to Tarantino.
Catty's production is played out on the simplest of sets (but) with its detailed soundscape and noirish lighting it conveys the requisite level of gutter dinginess and eeriness that makes this a wholly visceral experience.
Both (Johnny Vivash and Kieran Gough) deliver their twisting, epithet-littered monologues with admirable slickness and humour."
Whatsonstage * * * *
"In Nicola Dobrowolski's effective design the back wall is literally cracking under the pressure, while litter such as dirt, bricks, sweet wrappers and tin cans hug the walls, the convincing debris of everyday life.
Shocking, visceral and hugely funny.
Both (Vivash) and Gough give wired physical performances, dancing around eeach other in various guises of friend or foe. Vivash in particular hurtles himself around the stage with impressive force, one minute raining punches on an invisible assailant, the next whiplashed into a headlock by him. On an empty stage it's as if he's beseiged by demons.
This murkily-lit, lightning fast, slippery play."
British Theatre Guide
"The hard-working and impressive Johnny Vivash puts in an outstanding performance. Gough too proved he has a knack for providing the action of each of his parts through the remarkable comic poetry.
Through their clear talent and O'Rowe's intelligent script this dark piece of social commentary proves enthralling until the end."
Irish Post * * * *
"Comparing this anniversary production to the original Bush outing is easy, with this latter version being darker, dirtier and more dangerous with a directorial flair missing in West London.
(The) choreography adds vim and vinegar to an already muscular performance.
The cast is excellent with both Kieran Gough and Johnny Vivash literally slinging their hearts and soul across the stage.
Praise must go to the spare but extremely effective set, stage and lighting design aided by a subtle soundtrack... The combined talents of Benet Catty (director and lighting), Nicola Dobrowolski (design) and Simon Perkin (sound) melded together to create a world within a world.
An exciting and radical new production... not to be missed."
"A sort of Stones in his Pockets meets Shameless...
An industrial tension-building soundtrack, along with sharp staging and lighting, ensures the production flies along at a white-knuckle pace.
It raised me up with its humour one minute and pulled me down with its pathos the next, all the while hanging on tight as we hurtled through their domestic, urban and criminal worlds. When it stopped I was both relieved it was over and desperate to feel the thrill of it again."
Camden New Journal
"The wooden seats crackle at the energy which bursts out of this confrontational play where Johnny Vivash and Kieran Gough skilfully create the mundane, poetic and dangerous world of Howie the Rookie.
Benet Catty's direction is precise and stimulating. The way the sound creeps through every corner of the stage aids the quickness of the play and brings forward textures in the story.
There is an imaginative and precise clarity... Benet's understanding of theatrical language, together with Johnny and Kieran's skill and energy really brings this text to life.
A night packed with action, escapist and playful, violent and vivid."
"Simon Perkin's sound design immediately sets the gorgeously dark and gritty atmosphere to this piece, along with Nicola Dobrowolski's minimalist design....Slick is a word that encapsulates this whole production.
Johnny Vivash's Howie and Kieran Gough's Rookie are both well performed and their physical portrayals of both characters are wonderful to watch, being both intensely focussed but also lovingly created.
Benet Catty's direction is pacey and humorous and the choreography is excellent."