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  • Jasmine Owen-Moulding

Review: Mother Clap's Molly House

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Conor O’Cuinn’s rendition of Mother Clap’s Molly House by Mark Ravenhill transforms Bedlam Theatre into a raunchy portal between centuries, celebrating both the diversity of sexuality and our intrinsic desire for familial bonds. Set across two time periods in London, an 18th-century Molly House and a 21st-century sex party, the play manages to remain bold and spirited throughout whilst delivering a powerful narrative through the blend of black comedy and musical elements.


The production thrives on phenomenal performances from the cast, notably led by a spellbinding Olivia Martin (playing Mrs Tull). Martin’s portrayal is nothing short of transformative, breathing life into the character with every word and gesture, she commands the whole room. Special mention must also go to Benny Harrison and Seb Elder (playing Martin and Orme), together they are a powerhouse of charm, energy, and fantastic comedy. While these performances shine particularly brightly, the entire cast merits praise for their extraordinary talent in presenting performances that are at once eccentric, alluring, and hilarious, yet also full of depth.

Building on the momentum of these remarkable performances, O’Cuinn’s direction further elevates Mother Clap’s Molly House. He merges the emotive narrative with innovative staging and a keen attention to the dynamics between characters, capitalising on the humour to be found in each scene. Despite a run time that feels a tad lengthy at 2 hours and 50 minutes, every minute is filled with purpose. O’Cuinn balances the play's comedic elements with its deeper, more reflective themes, guiding the audience through a spectrum of emotions that resonate long after the curtain falls.


Equally integral to the production's success are the musical elements, orchestrated by Musical Director Falk Meier. The music transcends mere background accompaniment, becoming a vibrant character in its own right. The songs, often led by the Gods (played by Chelsea Laurik, Nash Norgaard, and Ellie Moore), not only enhance the narrative, but also underscore the play’s exploration of love, identity, and community. Through a harmonious blend of song and storytelling, the production envelops the audience in an immersive experience, enriched by every note and lyric. These musical moments are complimented by Greta Abbey's choreography, I am especially impressed by the fan sequence pictured below.

The set design by Emilie Noël, is the epitome of understated efficacy. With subtlety and precision, Noël transforms the stage into a chameleon of eras, shifting effortlessly between the bawdy vibrancy of an 18th-century Molly House to the shadowed modernity of the 21st-century sex party. This transformation is heightened by the clever use of lighting and projection which are both key to the context of the stage, painting the backdrop of each era with a light that is as informative as it is atmospheric. The synergy between set, costume, lighting, and technical effects culminates in a visual alchemy that anchors the audience firmly within the play’s dual worlds.


Delivering an all-round unforgettable theatrical experience, the cast and crew of Mother Clap’s Molly House are well deserving of five stars for all they have achieved in their sold-out run.

Photographs by Andrew Morris

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