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The Jazz Age UK premiere scoops four and five star reviews

The Jazz Age UK premiere has scooped four and five star reviews with theatre critics from the Spy in the Stalls and from British Theatre.com. The Jazz Age premiered here in the UK at The Playground Theatre from 2-19 October 2019. Praise for the play; where the London jazz scene met fringe theatre, did not end with theatre critics. Audiences loved it, as did industry experts, playwrights, producers, actors, photographers, set designers, casting directors and film-makers.

The Jazz Age exceptionally talented cast and musicians – photographs by Robert Workman

Theatre critic reviews

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Five stars The Spy in the Stalls

The Jazz Age The Playground Theatre Reviewed – 15th October 2019

Here’s what Sebastian Porter from the Spy in the Stalls had to say about The Jazz Age…

“Jana Robbins and Anthony Biggs’ direction is jaw-droppingly masterful”
“The New Yorker called him a 44 year old unemployed screenwriter from a forgotten era. The Jazz Age, they called it.” So says Ernest Hemingway about his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald in Allan Knee’s new play, The Jazz Age. It’s a quote dripping with delicious irony, as neither Fitzgerald, The Jazz Age nor Knee’s tribute of the same name are in any.
As one might expect, the music is part of what makes The Jazz Age such a joyously stimulating experience – like icing on a cupcake, you’d notice if it wasn’t there.
The stars of the show, however, are the characters themselves. Jana Robbins and Anthony Biggs’ direction is jaw-droppingly masterful – this is as close as you’re going to get to seeing Scott, Zelda or Hemingway actually come back to life.
Boulter’s Scott is […] measured impeccably and heart-breaking to witness.
Tointon beautifully embodies the flapper girl Zelda […] making her mesmerising to watch.
Derges’ Hemingway is quite simply breathtaking. Seldom have I seen an actor master the dry wit in a play like Derges does here.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Four stars  British Theatre.com

British Theatre.com review of The Jazz Age – 5th October 2019

Here’s what Mark Ludmon from British Theatre.com had to say about The Jazz Age…

“Three of the biggest literary stars of the Twenties and Thirties are brought back to wild, manic life in Allan Knee’s play, The Jazz Age. Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were as much a topic for the gossip columns as the book pages, and Knee has drawn on their writings to tell their turbulent story through the prism of their friendship. After premiering Off-Broadway in 2008, the play has come to the UK under directors Anthony Biggs and Jana Robbins.
Knee’s script is full of sex – frank, unashamed talk that reflects how so many taboos were, briefly and hopefully, swept away during the Jazz Age. But what really brings the sense of the period is Darren Berry’s fantastic new musical score, intricately woven into the text and performed by Berry, Rebekah Bouche and João Mello on grand piano and a variety of instruments. Further atmosphere is added by Gregor Donnelly’s set, resembling a 1920s jazz club. With less than three months before we embark on the Twenties of the 21st century, this is a timely and fascinating opportunity to look back at a decade that continues to resonate with so many of us today.”

The Jazz Age posters and creative

The Jazz Age; what audiences thought

Audiences took The Jazz Age to heart often visiting more than once where they could. Tributes for playwright Allan Knee, cast, musicians, directors, casting agent, creatives such as set and costume design, box office, stage management and producers was shared, liked and re-shared on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook in person, and at the theatre.

Before we move on to the detail – we would just like to thank you for your support.  If you where not amongst the 1,100+ The Jazz Age visitors we feel we should share the reviews and of course photographs of our super talented cast and musicians, with you.

More about The Jazz Age and a quick reminder of cast and crew…

The Playground Theatre meet the London jazz scene in an exceptional play The Jazz Age, by Allan Knee.
This UK premiere was directed by Anthony Biggs and Jana Robbins; with music composed, arranged and played by Darren Berry.

Three actors and three jazz musicians placed audiences within touching distance of The Jazz Age as the thrilling; yet tragic story of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre unraveled.

The Jazz Age Cast
Robert Boulter cast as F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Inheritance The Young Vic, Casualty, Mercenaries).
Hannah Tointon cast as Zelda Sayre (The Inbetweeners, Mr. Selfridge, Hollyoaks, The Festival).
Jack Derges cast as Ernest Hemingway (EastEnders, Doctors, The Royals, WPC 56).

The Jazz Age Musicians
Darren Berry on violin, ukulele; also composing and arranging The Jazz Age music (Penguin Cafe, featured in Last.fm).
Rebekah Bouche on double bass, singer-songwriter (Bouche record label, UK Appalachian & London jazz scene, Delta Blues, Memphis Mini).
João Mello on saxophone, high-strung acoustic guitar and keyboard (Rattle That Lock Tour, The Blue, In any Tongue, Delta Blues, Memphis Mini).

The Jazz Age Creatives
Director Anthony Biggs and Jana Robbins, musical arrangement and composition Darren Berry, choreography Stephanie Burrows, set and costume design Gregor Donnelly, lighting Sherry Coenen, marketing and PR Sophie Relf, The Jazz Age creative Steph Pyne, executive producer Amanda Waggott. Casting agent Anne Vosser of Vosser Casting.

More of what audiences thought of The Jazz Age

What was said about The Jazz Age on Instagram

⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Superb performances from Hannah Tointon, Jack Derges and Robert Boulter. And that music – there should have been more of it, more singing and more speakeasy vibes. A great night out.”
Drama Teacher Critic

What was said about The Jazz Age on Twitter

“Wonderful insightful evening watching fabulous performances by #RobertBoulter #HannahTointon and #JackDerges in #TheJazzAge at the @PlaygroundW10 thank you Jana Robbins Productions” @edwardbakerduly

“Spent the night back in the 20’s watching #TheJazzAge it was spectacular, and of course our darling Robert Boulter absolutely killed it as F. Scott Fitzgerald”  @amyvalhalla

“How have I only just found magical @PlaygroundW10 ?! #TheJazzAge is a charming, surprising & nostalgic play with glorious music & a speakeasy atmosphere. Congrats @AnthonyBiggs_ @mrjackderges @Amandawaggott @Robert_Boulter &especially pal @HannahMTointon so magnetic as Zelda ⭐” @PhillipaFlynn

What was said about The Jazz Age cast and musicians on Twitter

“loved watching one of my bestest on stage tonight @playgroundW10 in #TheJazzAge – @mrjackderges as Hemingway, extremely proud” @MissKatyWale

“Really enjoyed #TheJazzAge @PlaygroundW10 .Brilliant performances from all 3 actors but a particular shoutout to Hannah Tointon whose asylum scene was a real standout.” @LizzieBea3

“Really wish #TheJazzAge at the @PlaygroundW10 had a longer run than two weeks. Amazing performances from the cast and musicians. Well done @Robert_Boulter @mrjackderges @HannahMTointon ? Would love to have been able to see it again and would recommend it to all. Hope it transfers” @tawnyboy

“So glad Jack is getting the better roles nowadays! Years of him being mistaken for “just a pretty face when his comic timing is also spot on!” @JamieZubairi1

“We couldn’t agree more [@JamieZubairi1] #Jack even handled a ring tone heckle during yesterday’s matinee in perfect #Hemmingway style ?grateful for your #support” @PlaygroundW10

“Completely blown away by #TheJazzAge @PlaygroundW10 Such an incredible play phenomenal performances from the cast @Robert_Boulter @HannahMTointon & @mrjackderges Congratulations to all involved! What a stunning piece of theatre.” @George_Leonidas

What was said about The Jazz Age playwright Allan Knee and production on Twitter

“Last 2 shows today #TheJazzAge @PlaygroundW10 .It’s such an incredible piece of writing & bloody amazing cast @Robert_Boulter @mrjackderges @HannahMTointon .Breathtaking .If this doesn’t get transferred it’s a travesty. Go see it if there are tickets left you won’t be disappointed! @StephLeonidas

“Such a delightful night in the theatre. Fascinating characters, powerful drama, wonderful cast directed by the great @AnthonyBiggs_” @GregoryEvans

“Congratulations to @PlaygroundW10 for another great performance last night #TheJazzAge is terrific ?” @LMAcland

“#TheJazzAge @PlaygroundW10 is truly sensational. Phenomenal writing & an absolute masterclass in acting! Everything about the production is first class. Get along quickly to see it as it closes on Saturday. 5 ⭐” @_Jasper_Plays

“One of my FAVOURITE plays. And what a fabulous cast!!” @ericasbreamcast

What was said about The Playground Theatre and The Jazz Age on Twitter

“Here at @PlaygroundW10 for #TheJazz Age such a charming and welcoming theatre”@EvelynBonella 
“A Scintillating stage speaks of success ‘keep the party going’ #bravo #amazingtheatre #TheJazzAge @PlaygroundW10” @EvelynBonella 

“An insanely brilliant emotional journey and a must see!!! Congratulations to all involved on an amazing production @JanaProd” @TheEmilyCarey

“I do strongly recommend that you go to see #TheJazzAge @theplaygroundtheatre – such an incredible cast and produced by @amandawaggott” @mirandabunting

“Could not agree more with this [British Theatre] review. For fans of #TheJazzAge of the 1920s/30s & of Fitzgerald & Hemingway it’s an absolute treat. For those like me who have simply read their books it’s a fascinating insight superbly staged by @AnthonyBiggs_” @rgclondoncomms 

And here is a wonderful review from Laura C who was enthralled by The Jazz Age

Jazz, Gin, jollity, juvenile flirtations and three sublimely talented individuals.
Each one of this trio, Zelda Sayer, Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway has their own splendid corner from which to pitch. It is, after all post WWI and freedom of speech, egged on by a ‘little’ booze and bravado and beautiful looking folks, is up for grabs by those brave and bold enough to roar. Everything is spurred on by music, the utterly insatiable jazz, rhythm.

Zelda is vibrant, sexy, lustful, over excitable, hedonistic, beautiful, abhorrently flirtatious and isn’t for faint hearted souls. She’s a willow the wisp, a whirling dervish and describes herself at her tender age of being “a cocoon waiting to burst out into a beautiful butterfly”, as she pans stage left in one mighty Southern drawl and airborne flutter.

Scott carries superbly his monologues, in a pace conducive to exuberant amounts of gin. He teases others with his brilliant flare for words, splendidly talented, confident in his flirtation, an elite socialite and highly tuned (except when drunk). He is mesmerised by Zelda and makes no bones about his pursuit of her being a successful one.

Ernest is classy, wise, with an amiable arrogance and a slight reserve about him. Seemingly robust, with an air of knowing and admired by Scott (a mutual respect in fact) he holds a “push-me-pull-you” relationship with Scott which bears near enough the amount of neuroses and sexual banter as Zelda possesses!!

Oh the titillating twenties! A roaring platform for all three’s self servicing scenes. Oh to be in Gay Paris! Which suited them colourfully so (well, for a number of years at least until…).

Zelda could fuel many an engine with the amount of sheer excitement, with her societal razzmatazz which; in turn energises every living sensation.

However; time passes and all is not what it seems. Beneath the Music Genius, the successes, the jazzy dresses, the literary greatness, being heralded all about town with notoriety and carte blanche access to any party, along with the passion, all three carry a darkness, bare a muddy burden, a gritty reality when it becomes apparent:
“What goes up, must come down…”

The Jazz Age, written by Allan Knee and directed by Anthony Biggs of the Playground Theatre, is a Gem not to keep hidden. We all invite you to come see the gleam for yourselves.

Kind Regards,
Laura C.

See you soon at The Playground Theatre

And there where so many more comments and positive points. Thank you once more to our wonderful cast and crew. Special shoutout for Jack Derges who performed several shows with a dislocated shoulder in a sling – what a trooper. We hope to see you again very soon at The Playground Theatre.

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