"This show is beautifully put together, from Max Johns’s cunningly simple design in which the pinks and Day-Glo colours of the nursery collide with floating furniture, to the growing sense of danger evoked by Giles Thomas’s sound design"
"Max Johns’ design feels as if it has been fed by the disturbing corner of YouTube full of ‘educational’ videos that are meant for toddlers but are, in fact, the stuff of enduring nightmares. There’s so much colour here, and so much noise in Giles Thomas’ sound design; it’s a constant sensory overload, full of looming things that are funny one second and disturbing the next – a baby’s eye view of the world"
"The hints of the surrealism to come are to be found in the clever staging by designer Max Johns and the lighting by Jess Bernberg. The wardrobe positioned halfway up the wall that seems to lead into Narnia with everything that comes out from within it"
"The plush pink carpet of Max Johns’ goes from cutesy to sickly considering the incessant drug use and violence played out upon it. Considering Johns’ set is without walls, it’s full of characters constantly hemmed in by their memories, their borders and circumstances"
"The set is flawless. A one eyed bunny, a hovering wardrobe, white plastic chair to match white plastic fridge, an expanse of light pink carpet and a hula hoop in the corner. And almost out of eye’s reach, the axe hanging way up high on the wall under a sign that reads “In Case of Emergency’. The piece is impeccably designed all round, from the fantastically creative set by Max Johns, which works beautifully with Jess Bernberg’s excellent lighting design, to the ominous sound, composed and designed by Giles Thomas"
"Max Johns has created a beautifully desolate seascape, with an expanse of clear plastic sheeting that extends up the back wall of the theatre, shimmering and murky under Tim Streader’s atmospheric lighting design."
"Notable is the stage design, which is restrained but effective (who would have thought that plastic sheeting could be so versatile and beautiful under lights?), using the whole glorious depth of the BOV stage."
"The real star of this production has to be Max Johns’s set design, which oozes the character of the industrial-esque world that the characters inhabit. With lots of furniture and props littered across the Courtyard Theatre’s stage, Johns has created a large open space for the performers to navigate and tell their story in. They traverse the landscape of school chairs and benches, nostalgic relics of a time harking back to the days of being a youngster, with confidence and finesse"
"Max Johns's set design tells a doleful story too: at its centre is a wooden-slatted hill that rises to the Yorkshire skyline but equally it is the shape of a coal-pit slag heap: the life that awaits Billy"
"Props are minimal but used efficiently and with artistry – the grey stones at his feet becoming ever messier, the rug beneath them becoming obscured more and more, symbolising the desperate and irreversible chaos imposed by perpetual foreign meddling on a uniquely beautiful land" Bristol 24/7
"Max Johns’ set is as poetic as Day and Bonger’s prose – a pile of stones on an Afghan rug, an office chair, a ceiling fan, and a small tank of water in the corner." ★★★★ The Reviews Hub
An interactive costume led performance for the John Madejski garden in the V&A museum, with the brief ‘Shakespeare Tribes’, as part of the V&A’s Shakespeare Festival and PQ 2015. Expanding upon my designs for The Merry Wives of Windsor, and in response to the courtyard garden space, the costumes were worn by members of Owl Parliament Choir who used them to make mischief and generate festive revelry among museum visitors. The concept drew on traditional English rituals – maypoles, mummers and green men – to explore the aesthetics of tribal behaviour and retrace our lineage to a ‘merrie England’ of the distant past. Following the performance costumes were displayed in the Theatre and Performance Gallery at the V&A. The performance has since been taken to Wilderness Festival as part of their roaming theatre programme and the Yard Theatre in Hackney.