I have just experienced one of the best theatrical events of my life. Spontaneous Productions, headed up by a local playwright, Jonathan Kaufman, has created an outstanding version of the Mata Hari story. Superbly written, creatively staged and absolutely brilliantly acted in the Sydenham Centre. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally involved, but the denouement and final resolution were truly heart-rending. No spoilers – the Mata Hari story is I think fairly well known – but the way Jonathan Kaufman engineered the ending was unbelievably poignant. It’s on for another 5 performances – tomorrow, Saturday and then on Thursday Friday and Saturday next week (17th-19th May). If you can get to see it – then do so. You’ll be in for a real treat. (David Plews, posted on local forums)
I was most impressed. The combination of her interrogation with simultaneous flashback scenes in her life was an ingenious piece of stagecraft, and extremely well executed. The acting was excellent, and you were carried along by the story. Of course it did not end well for her, but we knew that was going to happen, didn’t we? This is a production worth seeing for its professionalism alone, but it is also highly enjoyable. Congratulations to Jonathan and Spontaneous Productions. (review by Chris1948, Sydenham Town Forum)
Reviews from Audience Club members
Anonymous (5/5) An interesting portrayal of the character of Mata Hari. Very well presented with an excellent use of the shadow board. The actors played their many parts very effectively. Heartily recommended.
Anonymous (5/5) Written by Jonathan Kaufman, Eye of Day: The Mata Hari Story, is excellently performed by Georgina Russell,Hjalmar Nordén, Jodyanne Richardson and Mike Tibbetts.The venue is easily accessible by public transport and also wheelchair accessible. There is also a bar downstairs. The production deserves a wide audience.
Anonymous (5/5) Play was very cleverly constructed showing episodes with the young Mata Hari and her older version. All actors were brilliant. Enjoyed relearning the story and the simplicity and elegance of the play.
Christopher Morgan (5/5) This was a very interesting and entertaining biographical piece about the infamous femme fatale, written produced and directed by Jonathan Kaufman. It was creatively presented and I particularly appreciated the use of a shadow screen, which added greater
variety to the ‘stage picture’. Georgina Russell was coquettish and sexy as Young Mata Hari and Jodyanne Richardson, as the Older Mata Hari, gave a sensitive and well-nuanced performance. Hjalmar Norden and Mike Tibbets were both very strong in their many and various roles and they handled the swift character changes most impressively. All four had convincing and consistent accents. The box office staff were very friendly and welcoming. Sydenham was easy to get to by Tube/Overground, also, the venue was near the station and easy to find.
Osama Saeed (5/5) Really good play about a legend. The acting was excellent. The two men took many parts and the two Mata Hari’s acted to great effect. We left the theatre wondering if she were a spy or a fantasist who lost her way. All the actors held you in deep concentration. A good performance.
Signe Hoffos (5/5) A room above a bar in a community centre in Sydenham may be a bit of a comedown from the famous stages and opulent drawing rooms where Mata Hari made her name, but this sensitive production does her justice where many another flashier show has only
rehashed half-truths and lies. The narrative here reflects Julie Wheelwright’s excellent biography, exposing the sexism and sexual hypocrisy which doomed her to a cursory trial and summary execution; indeed, if anything, it downplays the racism and political context which made her such a convenient scapegoat. Georgina Russell looks uncannily like Margaretha Zelle MacLeod, and with
Michelle Buckley’s informed choreography suggests something of the sensation her dancing created in the heady days of the belle epoque; in parallel, Jodyanne Richardson sympathetically embodies the fatal naivety and self-absorption of the woman past her prime yet unable to grasp the gravity of her situation. Two actors, Hjalmar Norden and Mike Tibbetts, play a host of men to a nicety,
their frantic doubling underscoring the ineptitude of her espionage, but individual performances also colouring other moments of her life through the wavering reflection of the constant male gaze. This valiant production deserves every success.
Anonymous (4/5) This was our first visit to this venue. We were welcomed warmly and enjoyed our preshow drinks at the brewery/bar. The show itself was cleverly executed. The staging worked well to cover the diverse range of scene locations and the costuming was timeframe appropriate. The four artists did an amazing job portraying multiple characters but it was the women who stole the show. Both actresses delivered excellent performances. I hope this interesting historical production continues to reach audiences. Recommended!
Colleen Codner (4/5) An interesting play based on a true story of a dancer Marta Hari. A cast of four actors using simple props very little stage scenery. They were able to convey in a small local community a thought provoking biography of an interesting woman during the 1890’s in Paris and WW1. I am so pleased I went and saw this as the writer was interviewed by Robert Elms on his radio show,which sparked my interest in seeing this production. Congratulations to all involved.
Alexandra Borulya (5/5) Loved the show. Great story. Great acting. Interesting venue. Very friendly organisers. Great decorations. Would love to see this show on Broadway.
Kevin O’Driscoll (5/5) This play is very engaging, with superb acting by all four actors. Mata Hari herself is played by 2 actors, showing the younger and older character. The story is revealed through the interrogation by the French authorities. One is left with the impression of a once feted star, down on her luck, trying to maintain her glamorous lifestyle without appreciating the danger she was facing until it was too late. As for the centre itself, there is a nice bar downstairs selling micro brewery beers, wine and snacks. The auditorium is basic, but adequate and the stage surprisingly large for this type of venue. Highly recommended.
Philip Se-Hun Chang (5/5) An elegantly structured chamber telling the story of one of the more exotic subjects of WWI with considerable wit and poignancy. Jodyanne Richardson, playing the elder Mata Hari, is quite excellent in creating an emotional arc going from full of life confidence to
dsperation to dignity.
Rachel Lawrence (5/5) Great acting that brought a legend to life
Rhona Millais (5/5) Excellent production, excellent acting and very welcoming venue.
Ruth Renvoize (5/5) Excellent. Well put together, interesting, makes me want to learn more. Very well worth watching.
Sam MacDonald (5/5) A very thoughtful piece of theatre that I enjoyed very much. At times it was very funny but at others very sad….
Adrian Carlton-Oatley (4/5) A very well written account of the career of the dancer, courtesan and spy Mata Hari, told in flash-back in the course of her interrogation by a French official. Jodyanne Richardson was especially impressive as the older Mata Hari, faced perhaps for the first time with the consequence of her actions. The play is nicely ambiguous, leaving unanswered the question as to whether Mata Hari was indeed a treasonable enemy to her adopted country or merely a self-absorbed fantasist who did not realise the consequence of what she got embroiled in. Well worth seeing.
Marisa Renzullo (4/5) Really well acted play. I like the switch between the younger and older Mata Hari on stage together. Very interesting story of a glamorous double agent, you never quite knew for sure in the end which side she was really working on, I suspect her own side and the glamorous life she led. It was clever and entertaining.
Michael & Sharon Goldberg (4/5) An interesting little piece. Better in the second half as the story came together. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening 🙂
Audience comments (from feedback forms)
This evening I was entertained and fascinated by “Eye of the Day – The Mata Hari Story”.
I learnt a lot about a subject I only vaguely knew previously. See it while you can. (Ray Bishop, facebook post)
Always good subject matters (Hans Dekretser)
Loved the production. Good subject (David Roberts)
Very good – great acting. Well done (Brenda Coughlan)
Interesting story. Well acted (Ray Eagle)
Prima (Susan Baker-Bates)
Great show. Spontaneous Productions does it again (Paul-D Stephenson)
Clever! (Teresa Urra Kesar)
Excellent & creative
Interesting play. Food for thought
Good play & well acted
Very well done!
Great, v. good
Well done – excellent production!
Excellent production thanks. Very enjoyable
Good production. Well done
Great especially the second act
Very good indeed!
Brilliant performances. Very enjoyable
Brilliant. Thoroughly enjoyed it
Thoroughly enjoyed it. A wonderful woman
Really enjoyed – thank you!
Well done – great play
Excellent. Well acted
Brilliant – heart-rending. What a fabulous production
Excellent, well produced
A fascinating life, beautifully told! Well done Spontaneous Productions!!
Very well produced, thoroughly enjoyed it. Great acting – well done.
Jodyanne Richardson was star of the show
Well presented story I never knew
Very thoughtful theatre
Very professional, very enjoyable
Very cleverly done & brilliant acting
Great female story