Writing History + Reviews


PRESS REVIEWS for ‘Not Gods But Giants’:

‘The considerable achievement of McNeilly’s play is to develop domestic violence as his dramatic starting point rather than exploit it as a catastrophe. Under precise character direction the excellent cast elucidate McNeilly’s subtle explorations of the idea that domestic violence against women is the product of suppressed violence between men…

This is raw and intelligent stuff from a promising writer and a promising company’. – Tom Morris, Time Out.

‘Excellent acting abounds in this memorable production, in which highly literate blank verse fuses with slice-of-life dialogue to maximum effect, and the sense of dark despair, like a surpressed scream, is always close to the surface’. – Brian Cooper, The Stage

‘A drama partly in verse, it is as though T.S. Eliot were collaborating with John Osbourne to reflect the anger on the wasteland of a suburban estate… the English language triumphs in this intelligent play. McNeilly allows the ‘forgotten’ working class to make up the resources of the language of its own, and speak about its crisis’. – Terry Brotherstone, Workers Press

‘…well observed, delicately comic and subtly poignant scenes…’ Kate Clancy, The Scotsman.

‘Fresh and tough… skilfully trod by Paul McNeilly’s cast. I expect to hear more from Thirteen Treasures Theatre Company’. – Benedict Nightingale, The Times

‘A brave new company…exciting writing, wonderful acting’. – Alan Rickman.

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Cherry Picnic played to standing ovations on it’s run at The Old Red Lion, Islington.

PRESS REVIEWS for ‘Cherry Picnic’:…
**** ‘The fictional British gangster who nails heads to floors but still loves his mum is a tired creation who should be packed off to his Spanish villa. But in his latest play, writer Paul McNeilly has persuaded the character out of retirement and back to his rightful place as king of the driftwood washed up on Britain’s sink estates. Terry Fisher, played with convincing pop-eyed danger by the author himself, is that gangster – devoted to his dog, but whose very name inspires terror. And yet there is much more to him, much more than the usual grotesque lovable-but-vicious gangster served up by lazier writers.

McNeilly has created a hilarious, foulmouthed, surreal world where the universal language of self-help has infiltrated the patios of the second rate hit man. It’s as if M Scott Peck had met the Kray twins and convinced them of the power of positive thinking. Acted with precision and gusto by a talented bunch of young actors Cherry Picnic is as engaging, dangerous and laugh-out-loud piece of fringe theatre as you’ll find. The detail of McNeilly’s direction and the use of sound to power the narrative make this a must see’. – Piers Eady, Ham and High, London

‘Funny and fast moving…Paul McNeilly’s play is a definite chip off the ‘Mojo/Lock Stock’ block but it pulls its weight in top notch gags’. – Time Out

***** ‘This is a well crafted and inspired script that makes you laugh out loud… strong acting and good direction make it a hilarious evening out… all the cast deserve to be congratulated on fine performances’. – Camden New Journal

‘The writing is sharp and witty and the imagery used is very evocative… descends into violent farce, with an ending that wouldn’t look out of place in a John Webster play’. – Theatre World.

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Review of Bubble and Squeak **** “A Slice of Cafe Life” by Jessica White on 09/10/14.

Bubble and Squeak, performed in the raw surrounds of Rolling Stock, a performance space under a bridge in Kingsland Road, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The sparse set consisting of two tables, chairs and some coffee mugs, left plenty of room for the sharp and witty script from Paul McNeilly to take centre stage. Set across two London greasy spoons, the story takes place in The Lemon Tree and Giovanni’s, it’s more hygienic rival.Due to an actor ‘dropping out’ McNeilly takes the role of Bubble, and has to read from the script throughout – it is a testament to his stage presence and skill as an actor that nothing is lost from his performance because of this. On the surface Bubble is slightly paranoid and vaguely thuggish, but hidden depths are revealed in allusions to a political past and when he opens up to the mysterious woman with an accent, the catalyst who rocks the equilibrium of the all day breakfast.

Darren Cockrill, as Squeak, manages to charm as well as irritate, almost too well. He’s the guy you started talking to out of politeness who just won’t go away, as the lovelorn chemistry teacher in Giovanni’s is to discover as Squeak manages to ‘enveigle’ his way on to his table. This is one of the best scenes in the play, well acted and both funny and excruciating to watch. A series of vignettes coalesce in the final scene, when the exotic ‘foreign’ woman returns, spurring a conversation between the waitress and the chemistry teacher about the search for love. Some of the characters veer towards the sentimental here, the waitress is training to be midwife and has a whiff of the ‘tart with a heart’ cliché, but I enjoyed the counter balance of the hissing, negative aunt/café owner. A brilliant turn by an elderly mental outpatient jolts us back to the existential drama, which is the heart of this tale of loneliness, tea and the city.

The sharp exchanges of banter throughout feel rooted in improvisation, and indeed the whole performance feels like a polished improv at times, but the characters are more three dimensional and believable for it. McNeilly is inventive with language and keenly appreciates the London patois, thick with double entendres, innuendo, simmering anger and with the innate ability to charm. Leaving the performance with their voices in my head and my ear to the ground, I felt proud to be a Londoner. Crackling with life and laughter, featuring a great cast and writing talent, I will be keeping my eye on McNeilly’s Bubble and Squeak Collective. Because, it’s true, you can always guess if someone prefers brown or white.

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Egon Schiele was Paul’s first play. After producing an initial run at the Duke of Cambridge, he produced and directed a well-received three week run  at The White Bear, donating all proceeds to St. Luke’s Hospice, Basildon.

PRESS REVIEWS for ‘Egon Schiele’:

‘With stark Schiele-like paintings dominating the set, we are immediately thrust into Paul McNeilly’s abrasive, magnetic play on the tortured artist. It is a small but resonant domestic tragedy – the portrait of the artist as a callous young man.

A punchy and arresting play, ‘Egon Schiele’ is well served by McNeilly’s confident direction and promising talent as a dramatist. An unexpectedly robust and entertaining evening’. – Nicola Venning, What’s On

‘Lively biodrama…excellent performances… not afraid to stamp on the grave of it’s subject’. – Time Out.

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Dried and Roasted at the Glitch and Turn is a site-specific piece that, due to public demand, ran for four years in London, including the Southwark Playhouse.

PRESS REVIEWS for Dried & Roasted at the Glitch & Turn

*** “Ambitious show with huge potential” by Dominic di Nezza for remotegoat on 13/05/08

‘The phrase ‘site-specific’ can bring to mind a company that has found a flash location and shoehorned a play into it. Not Gods Theatre Co however, they have found an excellent formula for success in staging their entertaining show in a variety of upstairs rooms in a selection of Soho pubs.

Setting itself up as a typical late night in the bar of the ‘Glitch & Turn’, we are introduced to a plethora of typical denizens, including bored office workers, women looking (vainly) for a good time and everything in between. Our host is Nosh, a doorman with a penchant for philosophy, played – and indeed written – expertly by Paul McNeilly, who guides us through the late-night drinkers and the stories behind them… …McNeilly and (co-director) Katharine Peachey have done an excellent job in choreographing the action…Landlord! I’ll have another!

**** “Original quirky, very funny. The script is brilliant; witty and filthy in equal measure with a raw and edgy dark humour that was as quick and as fierce as anything by Martin McDonnagh or Shane Meadows…

I would really recommend anyone to seek out this production – it’s an exciting, original and highly entertaining piece of theatre with bags of spirit and humour that packs a mighty punch’. by Sarah Miles, Remote Goat

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‘Cycles’ a short play, was selected for the Bury Festival.

‘Spirals’ was selected for the Springboard Festival, Carriageworks, Leeds

‘Arthur Schemmings’ was selected for Sarah Berger’s ‘Write On’ Screenplay Festival at County Hall, SE1. It has now been made into an internet series. The first 6 episodes are available on line. Here is episode 3!

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