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The Green Fairy at the Union Theatre | Review

Julie Atherton (Jo) and Georgina Hellier (The Green Fairy) (c) Jack Sain
Julie Atherton (Jo) and Georgina Hellier (The Green Fairy) (c) Jack Sain

The latest offering at the Union Theatre in London is The Green Fairy receiving its full premiere after an enthusiastically received workshop at the King’s Head starring Lucie Jones and Declan Bennett. The Green Fairy follows one woman who wants to take back her life before it’s too late. Reminiscing of her life, Jo explores relationships with her ex-girlfriend, ex-husband and her daughter. Featuring an actor/musician cast of just six this musical is running until the end of November.

Jack Sain’s music is, at times, haunting and the multi-layered harmonies used are beautiful. The lyrics by Stephen Libby are clever and often witty. Some songs are glorious to listen to and all of the complicated score is performed brilliantly by the cast but unfortunately some seem to lose their impact and blur into one.

The story is slow to start and at times feels it lacks pace. Whilst the overall story has some interesting moments, it could do with some condensing to focus on the important events for Jo. Unfortunately, the cliff hanger ending also doesn’t quite fit and perhaps could be cut, instead ending on the beautifully performed and emotive song ‘Sticks and Stones’.

There is no denying that Julie Atherton is an extremely versatile performer. Never leaving the stage she has her work cut out and the emotions she portrays are always convincing and honest. Her character, Jo, is not the most likeable and unfortunately as the story progresses there few chances for the audience to grow too much empathy for her. Despite this Julie plays the character immensely well and is definitely a strong lead.

Standing out in this performance is Georgina Hellier who manages to play the fun, flirty Green Fairy and the seductive ex-girlfriend Elissa. Her vocals are beautiful but it is her ability to switch between characters that is especially good. Especially in such an intimate venue where no flaws can be hidden. She has full command of the stage and never loses character.

Opting for a simple set, designer Katharine Heath has created an ordinary pub in London but the hanging wine bottles add an extra twist and the vivid lighting by Alex Lewer create the ‘magical’ element. In fact, the lighting is some of the best seen at the Union Theatre, cleverly taking the audience on a journey between the past and the present. The use of dramatic lighting, bright colours and spotlights really works well to aid the storytelling.

Again, as so often seen at the Union Theatre, the cast is comprised of actor musicians and whilst not vital to this story it does allow for some lovely added touches and enables the music to have a lot more depth. Each cast member is multi-talented but it is Emma Whittaker who stands out for her wonderful cello and violin playing in addition to playing a Young Jo. Her soprano voice creates lovely harmonies during the duets and ensemble pieces.

Overall, as a show I think there needs to be more of a focus on Jo’s daughter Wendy whilst Toby and Jo’s husband Daniel need to be stronger characters to really allow the audience to connect with Jo’s story. At times it feels like a pity-fest which is unfortunate because like already mentioned there are some amazing songs and moments but at points they seem to get lost.

The Green Fairy is only playing at the Union Theatre for a strictly limited time and with such a multi-talented cast and an interesting score it is definitely worth paying this new show a visit.

3 Star Review

Review by Amanda Reynolds

Come into my world, for just a minute, and cast all your doubts aside…
Tonight, Jo saw her daughter Wendy sing for the first time in the pub where she used to work – they don’t seem to have a relationship. Jo doesn’t seem to have a relationship with anyone really, and the Green Fairy wants to know where it all went wrong…
Memories start to surface of Jo’s adolescence and early adulthood in 1990s London. Together, they explore Jo’s relationship with her ex-girlfriend, ex-husband and eventually her daughter. An ode to queer parenting and overcoming anxiety, The Green Fairy is an pub musical following one woman’s struggle to take back control of her own life before it’s too late.

Jack Sain directs Julie Atherton (Jo), Harry F Brown (Toby), Georgina Hellier (The Green Fairy), Emma Kinney (Wendy), David Perkins (Daniel) and Emma Whittaker (Young Jo).

Lockwood Productions and Fools & Kings present
The UK première of
by Jack Sain and Stephen Libby
Director: Jack Sain; Musical Director: William Bullivant
Dramaturg & Associate Writer: Hannah Hauer-King; Set and costume designer: Katharine Heath
Wednesday 30 October – Saturday 23 November
Union Theatre


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