A tiny theatre down a market street in Hoxton is something for Hackney to shout about

Hoxton©DA17: Hoxton Hall 130 Hoxton Street Hackney N1 6SH 070917 © david,altheer@gmail,com
Like Wilton’s Theatre in Wapping, the Hoxton is a former music hall
How it used to be: women dancing for “trade” in the mid-1800s

Hoxton Hall theatre © david,altheer@gmial,com

* Loving Dalston does not usually review theatre. In this case it has been persuaded to make an exception. See the succinct critique at the end of this short article


HOXTON HALL is one of the delights of Hackney that deserves to be better-known. Built in 1863 as a music hall, it seems almost to hide at the side of a once-busy market street.

This modest venue is, however, well up to date. For example, coming soon is a show by rising Nordic star Aurora.

Under chief executive and artistic director Karena Johnson, “the Hox” has a varied menu with a strong social conscience that has included helping disabled youngsters.

Aurora’s booked out, her international fan base ensured that, but you can still get tickets to Oranges and Elephants, an all-female musical. Not sold on the idea? It’s directed by Susie McKenna, and anything with her creative involvement is worth checking. She’s already made a success of OandE at the Hackney Empire.

HoxtonKarena©DA17: Karena Johnson, artistic director-CEO Hoxton Hall 130 Hoxton Street Hackney N1 6SH 070917 © david,altheer@gmail,com
Karena Johnson is the CEO

Visit the theatre as soon as you can. After a £2million restoration, the venue looks safe from the Philistines, But remember what the cold hand of corporatism did, for example, to Gainsborough Studios, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Lady Vanishes and other thrillers: it turned the huge Hoxton edifice into high-priced flats.

David Altheer 240118

* Oranges and Elephants runs at Hoxton Hall, 114 Hoxton Street N1 6SH (020 7684 0060 to Saturday 10 February 2018, 2.30pm, 7.30pm, £15-£18.

MY LORDS, Ladies and Gentlemen, do you fancy a laugh and a singalong?

Oranges and Elephants, written by Lil Warren, provides a fast-moving plot about tworival “girl” gangs from each side of the Thames. 

Each gang looks for innocent young female arrivals in London, taking them into their “family” ostensibly for safety but really to teach them to become fingersmiths (pickpockets) in the West End.

The director Susie McKenna is one of 30 women involved in the creation of this musical in Hoxton’s Victorian music hall (little-known outside Hackney), and her experience makes it special.

The actors are multitalented singers, instrumentalists and dancers. The singing of Christina Tedders as Nelly captivates the audience early on and Rebecca Bainbridge’s portrayal of the manipulative and psychopath Ada, is scary. Jo Collins’s piano-playing is faultless and her banter with Suzannah van den Berg keeps audiences giggling throughout the evening.

The rest of the cast deserve mention but space is limited and I can sense the editor breathing down my neck…

Rowena Bond

Backstory: Barbara Windsor sets Hackney on a new pathHackney panto-pantastic

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