"They’re helped by Max Johns’s great set: a large bed piled high with pastel pillows. The couple can’t help but lounge and roll, rummage and burrow in them; they giggle and fight like teenagers or – when things get tougher – struggle to wade through it all"
"Hats off to Max Johns, whose set, a bare stage that seems to stretch out for miles blanketed in a retro green carpet and graduated with a large (still carpeted) central depression, is genius. The emotional and physical space imposed on the characters by the set, and the levels used to exploit one another perfectly allow for the language and arguments to abound within the plush setting“
“Steel pans float in an out of audibility like a ghostly whisper from a distant home. It brilliantly complements Max Johns’ set design/art installation, which takes inspiration from Michael McMillan’s 2003 book The Front Room"
"Perhaps the best thing here is how the family’s chintzy home (designed by Max Johns) extends outside the performance space and all the way through to the Bush’s bar. There are ceramic dogs, fiddly bits of pressed lace, a commemorative plate adorned with Her Maj’s face and turquoise carpet running out the door"
"Inside the theatre, Max Johns’ design strips everything down to a faintly flowery-patterned carpet into which your feet promptly sink. Beaded curtains mark each entrance. There’s a square depression in the centre of the space, down two steps, like a small arena or a soft-play area. No sharp edges. It’s the front room. It’s where things are proper – everything in its place"
"Max Johns’s design, a gleaming marble disc platform set against a blackened gilded arch, conjures up an austere atmosphere of ritual, which later, in a devastating coup de théâtre, gives way to the elemental forces of nature“
"On Max Johns’s beautiful, gleaming black marble set, under Jackie Shemesh’s nuanced lighting design, the whole story and a slew of characters are narrated in words and gestures by Rakie Ayola and Kwami Odoom"
"Max Johns’s design has that elusive combination of grandeur and utility that, allied to Mark Doubleday’s imaginative lighting and Michael John McCarthy’s atmospheric sound design, conjures up considerable theatricality without ever seeming to be straining for effect"
“Designer Max Johns takes full advantage of the height of the Lyceum stage with implausibly long drapes of domestic lace to sweeping pirate sails. The eternal playground that is Neverland is literally that – chute, trampoline et al”
"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. The piece is impeccably designed all round, from the fantastically creative set by Max Johns"
"Max Johns’ set – shared with Leeds Playhouse’s current production of Kes – likewise evokes both the unremarkable and the off-kilter. Chairs upon chairs are balanced precariously at the back of the stage, their outlines familiar but dangerously tangled, looking as though they might come crashing down at any moment."
"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.