The Rooster Rebellion

This is a drama about a young woman who discovers that a former history teacher of hers has become homeless on the streets of London. She decides she’s going to run away from home in order to help him survive.

The play strives to address so much that, in the end, it manages to actually dissect very little

In The Rooster Rebellion, Jon McKenna does an excellent job playing the character of Shell, an ex-history teacher who ends up on the street. He is joined by Augusta Woods as Reece-Anne (the girl who runs away to help him), and Richard Oliver as Norris, a homeless man with an evil entrepreneurial spirit, who fights with Shell every day for position on the street. Rowena Bentley completes the ensemble as Reece-Anne’s mother, Mrs Wheeler. Stewart Harding provides light guitar music at the start and end of the performance.

At the start, The Rooster Rebellion provides an interesting premise. However, due to its lack of nuance, and disappointing conclusion, it winds up being – more often than not – a rather bland and unremarkable 45 minutes of theatre.

The production is disappointing not only for the little that it actually manages to do but also for how it fails to measure up to so much of what it initially promises. Care to dive into the hypocrisies of Christianity? What about the differences between ‘The Greatest Generation’ and ‘Generation Rent’? Or the problematically cruel nature of Capitalism? The Rooster Rebellion promises all that and more, but only manages to stay in the shallow end.

The play strives to address so much that, in the end, it manages to actually dissect very little. As a whole, the production’s attempt to tackle heavy issues results in a diluted drama which is totally scattershot and surface-level – often devolving to mere heavy-handed lecturing. Furthermore, the dialectic between the characters of Shell, Reece-Anne, Norris, and Mrs. Wheeler is totally unrealistic and unbelievable. It doesn’t feel like the characters exist to get closer to truth – rather, that they are mere opportunities for the playwright (Anthony L Mariani) to get up on his soapbox and preach his heart out. This is obviously a disappointment for the audience, but it’s also a disappointment for the actors up on stage. Their performance was consistently convincing and compelling. It’s a shame that the words coming out of their mouths were so poorly written. 

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The Blurb

The story of Shell (Jon McKenna), the ex-history teacher who is now homeless and lives in an abandoned Aldwych ghost station deep in the underground of London. Reece-Anne (Augusta Woods), the student who runs away from her religious, zealous mother Mrs. Wheeler (Rowena Bentley) to take care of her teacher. They panhandle together in front of the National Gallery competing with Norris (Richard Oliver), a homeless Veteran, for handouts. Live original music by (Stewart Harding).

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