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Muswell Hill

From 12 critic and 73 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Absorbing, Great staging

About the show

The Barrow Group and The Pond Theatre Company present this black comedy about friends discussing their day-to-day worries while a natural disaster is occurring halfway around the world. More…

One night in January 2010, an earthquake in Haiti leaves around a 100,000 people dead and almost two million homeless. Meanwhile, somewhere in a leafy North London suburb, a group of six individuals convene over avocado and prawns, followed by a monkfish stew. They struggle with worries over their mortgages, their mobile phone fees, their Facebook friends, their careers, their love lives, their diets, their alcohol intake, their holiday plans, and whether or not any of them will be able to make any lasting impression on history.


"It is utterly absorbing and knocks you off your axis for a bit. You’re also laughing out loud as the dialogue bounces you around...I loved every phrase, full stop and pregnant pause. The script is a total gift for the cast and director providing a perfect performance playground...The greatest kudos must be reserved for director Shannon Patterson. She has orchestrated a theatrical opus of staging, comic timing and characterization. You can feel an intelligent hand in every exquisite beat." Full Review


“An old-fashioned drinking-and-fighting play…Playwright Betts interprets this tried-and-true genre better than most, while a top-notch production sends it over the top. The result is a night of laughter through clenched jaws, the kind that could only come from the recognition of something that hits a little too close to home…You may wince in recognition of the inhabitants of Muswell Hill — perhaps one of them even looks like you. You'll definitely laugh, if only out of uncanny discomfort.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"The dinner party from hell is a tried and true theatrical device. Playwright Torben Betts takes full advantage of its potential...And while he does it most entertainingly, with a rapier sharp wit, there’s much food for thought...Director Patterson does a wonderful job of keeping the pace going...She keeps the audience eagerly waiting for the next shoe to drop without ever letting our interest wander for a moment. And the cast rides the line nicely between comedy and drama.” Full Review

Epoch Times

"'Muswell Hill' strikes many a chord in American viewers, particularly those of a sophisticated, or, perhaps, a neurotic, bent...They’re entertaining to watch from afar. Not many of us would want to be guests at this party...Excellent performances by all six performers, under Patterson’s taut direction, with the standout performances by three very attractive and skilled actresses at full pitch…‘Muswell Hill’ gets my vote as a sleeper hit." Full Review


“It’s an engrossing tale of parallel staccato conversations, pretentious blather, ill-timed exits, and protagonists ignoring one other while seeking solace in the warm distracting glow of their electronic gizmos...Setting the action almost a decade ago does somewhat date the performance...Still, this is a minor quibble. The overall cast is excellent...‘Muswell Hill’ is a worthy addition to the pantheon.” Full Review

Woman Around Town

“Betts is a splendid observer. Every character feels authentic, every conversation true to its sources...Caveats are few. I found the piece one disposable scene too long and object to musically accompanied blackouts after every scene which impedes innate flow. We’re AT that party and should feel as trapped as its diners. I assume this was a decision made by Patterson who otherwise does a simply marvelous job...The entire cast is terrific.” Full Review

Off Off Online

“A very funny comedy that has also become a sad commentary on human foibles...The whole eventual sextet, under Patterson’s deft direction, demonstrate individual nervous tics that feel integral, not pasted on...The laughs aren’t always laugh-out-loud, but they’re always deeply character-driven...While ‘Muswell Hill’ is surely a comedy, it ends with a man alone onstage, weeping, and none of the manifold conflicts resolved. But hey, isn’t life like that?” Full Review


“A play with interesting, well-played characters and a well-structured plot that holds your attention throughout but still doesn't seem to have or make its point with clarity...There is never a dull moment...All the actors have carved out distinct images of very real, if conflicted, people under the fine direction of Patterson. I hope we get to see more from this provocative playwright.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Often-trenchant…Betts has written some effective scenes (staged deftly by director Shannon Peterson), exposing the narrowness of these people’s lives…But I left the play not entirely sure about what all it was meant to add up to. Part of the problem is that the characters are almost uniformly unlikeable…On the plus side, the production boasts a talented cast, delivering performances that are well worth catching.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“The play's central purpose is to expose the hypocrisy of the presumably charitable liberal upper-middle class...Patterson does a generally good job balancing the play's twists and turns with the larger social themes. The cast is overall quite strong, and the actors push the characters to the brink of caricature without going over even when the play becomes a bit too farcical in Act Two...The space, however, poses some difficulty for both the audience and performers." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Much of this should zing us sharply but Shannon Patterson's unexceptional production-on a wide, shallow thrust placed along one of the long walls in the small, rectangular venue-muffles the zingers. The audience laughed often but little of the humor landed where I was sitting… Insufficiently dynamic acting and interplay, often inaudible dialogue, and staging that favors two of the three sides surrounding the stage are of no help in hiding weaknesses.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If ‘Muswell Hill’ tends to lecture rather than entertain, there is pleasure to be had in the crack ensemble, who mine every bit of the script's humor…Betts is clearly a talented writer. But this effort isn't sufficiently satirical or mordant to indict a way of life. It's just a really bad night out for six people, most of whom you'd cross the street to avoid. Chances are, you'll occasionally find them very funny, but my guess is you won't give a hoot about them.” Full Review

Must see, Intelligent, Great acting, staging, direction, Absorbing

See it if Flawless characterizations, performances. Crackling dialogue, Intelligent, stinging, adult drama, and surprisingly funny. The real thing.

Don't see it if You want sitcom humor, nudity, foul language or violence. This is engaging, uncomfortable interaction, and the talent to cut deep.

Funny, clever and ambitious, Intimate staging with fine acting

See it if you like British plays like "Abigail's Party"

Don't see it if you don't want to have to think a little and just want to be purely entertained

Great writing, Cliched, Must see, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if for its fantastic acting ensemble and intelligent writing and direction.

Don't see it if you're looking for a play with dramatic narrative.

Great acting, Edgy

See it if If you want to see a great play about really really bad people

Don't see it if If you need to have a good person to win in the end

Also This play was really good. Acting was great. The set and the direction... Read more Read less

Great staging, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you enjoy an in depth character study of some flawed people. You won't like them, but they are complex & interesting in their selfishness.

Don't see it if you want a play with likable characters.

Engaging, Superficial, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you want to see 6 extremely narcissistic characters battle it out.

Don't see it if expect the character development that you see in an Arthur Miller play

Also The 6 characters in the play have no compassion, understanding or empa... Read more Read less

Fun set, Great acting, Clever

See it if You like awkward dinner party plays. I do. Narcissistic characters but fun to watch. Jess had acting chops and good kitchen skills.

Don't see it if You have no patience for characters behaving badly or professor types overacting. I liked the set but my husband was thrown seeing backstage

Entertaining, Absorbing, Funny

See it if You like contemporary comedy/drama ala the Mike Leigh school of drama.

Don't see it if You need to see strikingly original theater, or don't want to be right in the actors' faces.

Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you like small theaters and great acting

Don't see it if are only into musicals

Also It did not wow me but was nice to see. Actors are great and every seat... Read more Read less

Slow, Disappointing, Cliched, Banal, Uninteresting

See it if you haven't seen or know enough self-absorbed people who are so obsessed with their own navels they don't see the world around them.

Don't see it if you're looking for something fresh and new or something that will justify the time you spend in the theatre.

Insipid, Quirky, Enchanting, Funny, Cliched

See it if You like good dialogue.,You like to see the excellent acting of Colleen Clinton as the main character Jess,.You like food double dipping.

Don't see it if You don't like a character (Annie) that looks older than her role in the play. You don't like a character (Tony) that is not believable.

Disappointing, Banal, Great acting, Funny

See it if you enjoy good, detailed performances and direction.

Don't see it if you are not interested in slow, repetitious scenes in the lives of some selfish, unlikeable characters.

Also An interesting evening of very good direction and terrific work by the... Read more Read less

Insipid, Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Banal

See it if A group of ego centered and emotionally damaged parade around while Rome is burning....never truly engaging.

Don't see it if Do not see if you perfer musicals or light dramas.

Intense, Slow, Dated, Cliched

See it if You like combative dinner parties with rather stereotypical combatants who are somewhat overdrawn. Some dialogue is quite funny/embarrasing

Don't see it if You don't like 'kitchen sink' type drama with strange characters who don't seem to fit together in the same place

Dated, Confusing, Cliched, Banal, Entertaining

See it if you like contemporary English domestic/social drama

Don't see it if you want excitement or fireworks on stage

Great acting, Overrated, Insipid

See it if You get a kick out of British accents.

Don't see it if you enjoy the "dinner play" subgenre. This slow-cooker was a bit on the underdone side.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Resonant

See it if you like theater and dinner parties with socializing with a lot of "characters"

Don't see it if you don't enjoy cliched, slow, "verbal diarrhea" exposition, and have an urge to run away from a dinner party

Entertaining, Resonant, Great staging, Great acting, Funny

See it if Great staging and direction, fantastic acting.

Don't see it if You have a hard time with British accents don't love feeling like a fly on the wall of someone's dinner party

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy plays full of witty banter, interruptions, and conversations with accidental ease dropping.

Don't see it if You don’t enjoy theatre that makes you consider your own life problems and how they are relative to the rest of the world’s.

Also Muswell Hill is a relavent, contemporary play that is unapologetic in ... Read more Read less

During previews
Relevant, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy theatre that doesn’t explore romanticized ideas but rather the mundane reality that we all face and how willing we are to not care

Don't see it if You want a plot that is stuffed with perfect characters in an unrealistic setting. See this to see relevant problems in modern relationships

Also A very well done play with excellent actors and a well crafted script.... Read more Read less

During previews
Resonant, Masterful, Funny, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Up-close, small theatre productions with excellent actors and a very timely, thought-provoking plot.

Don't see it if You only like fluffy musicals.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You agree that people get wrapped up in their own world and fail to connect with the rest of the humanity. We know this, but it's a reminder

Don't see it if You think that you already care enough about what's going on in the world or if you're not up for a drama with moments of comedy interlaced.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Intense, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you like British Drama, gossip, and cheeky characters.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of the English, get stressed easily, or are squeamish about broken relationships.

During previews
Must see, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if In the midst of human tragedy, small talk in a kitchen bubbles over when the pot is stirred too quickly. Edgy, relevant, thought provoking

Don't see it if You get easily on edge when secrets, lies and raw truth are exposed. Intense

During previews
Relevant, Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You are a fan of Alan Ayckbourn and/or Mike Leigh. You like slice of life dramas. It’squite realistic, literally a British kitchen sink play

Don't see it if You can’t deal with heavy British accents. You are looking for something unusual or unbelievable. Realism is a theme throughout.

Cast & Creatives (14)