“The roles are deep and challenging and diverse, with the actresses playing historical actresses both back-stage, practicing their craft, going about their lives in and around the theatre, and in something like half a dozen plays within the play, as excerpts of various period performances which the characters performed. Fortunately for the audience, the roles were performed by some of Canberra’s finest actresses, with expert direction from Jordan Best.“
“Playhouse Creatures makes wonderful debut by Canberra’s new theatre company, Pigeonhole Theatre…The spirit of Restoration England is captured beautifully in the costume design by Anne Kay, and the imaginative set designed by Christiane Nowak. The music was composed by Matthew Webster and with Jordan Best’s sensitive interpretation through her cello playing, there was an almost-cinematic audio atmosphere.
Canberra audiences should look forward to the next production from this talented company.“
“What is most inviting about Playhouse Creatures is the cosy and hospitable ambience created by set designer Christiane Nowak, lighting designer Kelly McGannon and solo cellist (and director) Jordan Best. The rustic warmth and rich sounds gently welcome and make one feel right at home, drawing one in to the characters’ stories….One could not fault the performances of Vickery, Dunham, Roberts, Wood and Bradley, with each one of them utterly captivating in this superbly casted production. In fact, together they achieved the rarity that is the holy grail of theatre – they made it believable…Playhouse Creatures is an intelligent, shining light of a production overflowing with heart and soul. It’s a wonderful homage to but a handful of the strong, brave women that came before us, who fought the battles that paved the way for current generations.”
“With another stirring of our consciousness to the struggle for women to be heard on our stages and screens, personified, of late, in Sydney, by the formation of WITS (Women in Theatre and Screen), this play’s appearance at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, as the first production of a new theatre company: pigeonhole theatre, the creation of Liz Bradley, Jordan Best and Karen Vickery, is a shot of robust curating that deserves attention…The actors of this production have a disparate range of skills but under the Direction of Jordan Best, create a moving ensemble of integrated storytellers, that focused intently on the lives (and politics) of the women in the play, such that one was induced to a state of a belief and immersion of a deep empathetic concern…PLAYHOUSE CREATURES is a moving evening in the theatre not just for its emotional and historical content but, particularly, because of its pertinent but gentle observation that the role of women in the theatre may not have much changed since 1669, and celebrates that these pioneers, whatever their ultimate experience was, could say with pride: “But we spoke, and we was the first…“
“Pidgeonhole Theatre launch into Canberra Theatre with a clever, thoughtful and above all immensely skilled production drawing from the Restoration period, as women were allowed to act on the English stage for the first time…Jordan Best directs with a strong hand and a smooth pace, as well as providing tense and dramatic cello interludes as part of Matthew Webster’s score. Christine Nowak’s set is simple (a platform with a decorative screen above for the stage, a couple of chairs and hainging spots below for the dressing room) but effective, and Kelly McGannon’s lighting shows it off nicely…
As a demonstration of the power of these fine actresses, “Playhouse Creatures” should not be missed.“
That Guy Who Watches Canberra Theatre
“Praise all round for right choice of play, neat set design, very good directing and acting, nice lighting, and interesting musical accompaniment. An excellent beginning for the newly-formed Pigeonhole Theatre dedicated to providing professional productions with great roles for women on and off the stag.“
Canberra Critics Circle
“Local women shine in this perfectly realised and highly professional production of British dramatist April De Angela’s 1993 play, Playhouse Creatures…
Pigeonhole Theatre is a new, local company dedicated to providing professional productions with great roles for women. In this show, their aim is fully realised.”
“Jordan Best, the director, has done some of her best work here with a strong production that works on all levels. Played on a split level set well-designed by Christine Nowak and lit by Kelly McGannon, the atmosphere of a Restoration era theatre is nicely captured. The music score by Matthew Webster is hauntingly beautiful.
There are great performances from the entire cast. Amy Dunham as Nell Gwynn is superb as the rough young girl who wants to be an actress. Karen Vickery gives a highly detailed and very real performance as the reigning queen of the theatre, Mary Betterton. Jenna Roberts plays her role with a delicacy and fragility that is heart-breaking and Emma Wood gives a grand performance both humorous and sad. Liz Bradley is nicely tough and funny as Doll Common and expertly delivers some of the best lines in the show.
The period costumes by Anne Kay run the gamut from rags to riches and all are nicely designed and suit the actresses very well.
There are two major reasons to see this play. It tells a fascinating story about an important time in theatre history and it’s an opportunity to see some of Canberra’s top actresses giving extraordinary performances.”
Canberra Critics Circle
“For its debut production, Canberra’s newly formed Pigeonhole Theatre has scored a stunning triumph with April De Angelis’ Playhouse Creatures.
Directed with customary flair, sensitivity and imagination by Jordan Best and featuring a cast of Canberra’s finest female actors…Pigeonhole Theatre speaks from the heart and creates a performance of utmost decorum. There are moments of sheer magic, heightened by Best’s evocative playing on the cello and Matthew Webster’s brilliant accompanying musical composition.
The struggles that the brave actresses of the Restoration stage faced persist, but De Angelis and Pigeonhole Theatre offer hope for change and Canberra’s shining new company promises a much needed professional opportunity for more women to be employed in the creation and performance of theatre, in honour of all those women who forged the way to bring their talent to the stage.”
The Canberra Times