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Review of The Patriarch at Moors Bar Theatre

The PatriarchMoors Bar Theatre is a small venue in Crouch End, North London.The atmosphere is welcoming, the company including the writer/director, Seth Jones and the producer, Andy James, are enthusiastic, energetic and committed. One really wants to have a good time.

The play is structured as four segments of a television series. A sheet (un-ironed unfortunately) is hung across the playing space to represent a television screen and opens as each segment begins, just like a curtain in a real play.

The basic story line is: how far would a man go to save his child’s life? Gerald, a simple family man who works in a phone shop is confronted with this dilemma when his child contracts a rare (unnamed) disease and the NHS resources are exhausted. To get the money for private treatment, he agrees to hold drugs for (I think) his brother. So far, so mildly illegal. Then the drugs go ‘light’. Who has stolen them? Poor Gerald finds himself dragged deeper and deeper into an underworld of drug dealing, torture, gangsters, corrupt doctors, stalking and murder. The subplot involves a couple of would-be actors who eventually get drawn into the main plot with tragic consequences.

The story overall becomes as complicated and confusing as a real television serial.  There was an enormous amount of shouting and shooting, blood and bruises, revelations and confessions.

The author seems to have learned a great deal from such television series as “Homeland’ and ‘Breaking Bad’. Each segment ends with a question which is a hook to the next episode. The characters, although flat, have clear, strong, personal intentions, the pervading atmosphere of corruption is dramatic and he follows the first (and only) rule of theatre: Don’t Be Boring. It was certainly not boring, but it needs a lot of work both to clarify parts of the text and also to make the physical production develop the television inspiration. This goes beyond ironing the sheet. We need to be much more aware that we are watching television. For instance: are there opening/ closing credits? adverts? Why is Seth Jones setting this as a television series? Is this a statement of some kind?  What does he wish to explore with this device?

As a writer, Jones can tell a well paced story, write good dialogue and link his plot to current issues. As a director, he does not seem to have noticed that, particularly in television, less is more. Rob Nicholas is engaging and sympathetic as Gerald and Caroline Zihler is quietly, believably drained as his wife, but many of the other actors pitched their performances way too high, seemingly unable  to genuinely talk  or listen to each other, and one or two of them were embarrassingly reminiscent of the cast of ‘The Torchbearers.’ Overall, however, I wasn’t bored, my mind didn’t wander and I wasn’t tempted to nip to the kitchen for a sandwich. However, I’m not sure I would write in asking for a second series.

Review by Kate Beswick


The Patriarch
PKB Management and Production Ltd. & Moors Theatre
Present THE PATRIARCH By Seth Jones
Directed By Andrew St. Clair James & Seth Jones
Dates:24,25,26th (FEB) 3,4,5th (MAR)

Javier – Barry Brosnan
Stevie – Sam Connolly
Gerald – Rob Nicholas
Sussanah – Caroline Zihler
Indianna – Lilly Roberts
Mr.Simons – Warren Brooking
Jim – Jasraj Sahota
Stacey – Sheridan Cassidy
Dr. Alkaev – James Wordsworth

Director/Writer – Seth Jones
Sound/Lighting – Eric Botfield
Producer – Andy James
Sponsors – Greene & Co

If your child or loved one needed private care and you could not afford it, what would you do? If society and the system turns a blind eye to your desperation, where would you turn? Could you make decisions to destroy all you have ever stood for? Would you murder for one of your own? Gerald turns his back to society and takes the Law into his own hands. But nothing is as easy or as black and white as he first thinks. A crumbling family, Twisted Dr, Regretful Mafia, Failed actors all surround two naive children. All of this when ‘Les Miserables meets Breaking Bad’.! 4 EPISODES?! Because of the nature of the piece – PKB & Moors want to try something new. The play will be told in four 30 minute fast paced episodes. Each one ending with a ” Did he do it” moment. You will witness a short TV Series in one night in front of your very own eyes!!

Thursday 6th March 2014


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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