AN EVENING OF DEMENTIA at the Ustinov, Bath

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“. . . Smith uses the play to make wider points. “There is a lot of dementia about,” he says, “We are forgetting to care for one another in an everyday common sense sort of way.” Delivered by the man who no longer recognises his own family, this makes for powerful health politicking. . . Smith’s convincing narrative makes us weep, sometimes ironically laugh at this uncomfortable yet for many inevitable seventh stage in the life of man. By putting the condition centre stage we are all helped to look at it in the teeth.”

WHO IS DORY PREVIN? at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol

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“If you look Dory Previn up on YouTube you’ll see that her clips have been viewed on average about 20,000 times each. By comparison Kate Bush’s views on the video-sharing website number in the many millions. Both women were working in the 1970s, both were writing highly original and personal material with sometimes quirky lyrics . . . Kate Dimbleby’s celebratory exploration of Previn’s experiences and songbook breathed life back into this deeply personal work that has always existed outside music’s mainstream.”

FLEABAG at Brewery Theatre, Bristol

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“. . . In your face, up your bottom, Fleabag is about sex – shedloads of it during a steamy, hilarious and sometimes disturbing hour. Bright-eyed, rouge-lipped Maddie Rice delivers Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s pulsating, award-winning monologue with disarming easy confidence . . . Waller-Bridge is a voice to be reckoned with. Take note, this woman knows no fear. At a time when post modernist feminism is battering at The Sun to remove its topless page 3, along comes Fleabag to post us a vagina selfie. You work it out! Brilliant.”

BOUNCERS at the Everyman, Cheltenham

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“John Godber’s 1977 play tells the story of a typical Friday night in a typical city, somewhere up north. The cast of four, dressed in black ties and dinner jackets but still managing to look scruffy, play the bouncers in question, as well as a group of lads hell bent on a few jars and a grope, four lasses hell bent on a few Babychams and getting groped, plus a few other odd characters who present themselves at the door the bouncers are minding. . . This is well observed stuff and very funny. It is in your face humour.”

ORCA at the Alma Theatre, Bristol

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Three cheers for the Alma – another thought-provoking play performed with great intensity to an appreciative audience, who despite prolonged applause couldn’t entice actors Lucy Ross-Elliott (Esme) and Angus Harrison (Willard) back out for a second bow at tonight’s performance of Orca. . . Orca is much more than an ocean-going mammal on wheels – it’s well worth experiencing this well-acted black comedy drama, tankside at the Alma.

WILDE WITHOUT THE BOY and THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL at the Ustinov, Bath

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A one-man show has obvious challenges, but equally offers a world of possibilities. Unconfined by a rigid or specific set our imaginations, at the merest prompting can take us anywhere the dramatist would care to lead. In the first half of the show director and dramatist, Gareth Armstrong, has his Oscar in black Victorian morning suit on a black stage against a black background and there we stay.

WAR HORSE at the Bristol Hippodrome

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“The directors have learned that fundamental lesson of theatre (known indeed by striptease artists) that to suggest is often more powerful than to show. Morris’s other revival, Swallows and Amazons, bears this out. He has become a master of imaginative stagecraft and like Orson Welles, who brought Moby Dick to the London stage some half century ago, he relishes making the seemingly impossible possible. Total war calls for total theatre and in this production the two are well matched. “

ALMOST HEAVEN at the Everyman Studio, Cheltenham

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“Almost Heaven was powerful stuff created by Bill Buffery and Gill Nathanson which explored relationships and how we communicate within them and even the value and efficacy of language itself. This was good, authoritative, thought provoking theatre with two beautifully measured and sensitive performances which would have graced any stage and for which I can only offer the highest praise. . . a little gem of a play skilfully performed by its creators.”