Bare Essentials

★★★★

Review by Charlotte Smith

This was my first experience of a Bare Essentials new writing night, and I was unsure what to expect. An opportunity to observe a supportive and encouraging platform for new, rising writers to produce exciting fresh material. The producer of Bare Essentials, Liam Fleming opened the evening, by giving an insight of what the company represents and then the six new plays began.

Stuck by Scott Mullen, James Unsworth and Liz Mcmullen were Palmer and Zoe. Palmer has a relaxed and laid back approach about life, staying at the airport in the cafe Zoe works in. He gives the “excuse” of the planes being overbooked day after day, being offered £500 to move flights. No one really knows if this is true or not, however at the end he then offers Zoe the ticket and £5000. So we are left with the question if his story was true or not? McMullen was perfect as the energetic and fun-loving Zoe. Both characters perfectly portrayed, you couldn’t help but engage with them. You want something to happen but something tells you Zoe is wasting her time.

Raghead, was a unique piece. Sarah (Charlotte Peak) a catholic, pretending to be a muslim and Nick (Eddie Usher) a Firefighter. Trying to be nice towards Sarah, Nick wanted to know the real Sarah and not what she was putting on and when she refused, Nick couldn’t handle it and had to leave. Peak came on in character and I did like fact that Nick assumed she was at the wrong table, did give me a giggle. However when they started talking you could see something may happen, if only Nick could get to know the real Sarah. With minimal language, this piece worked really well and it did give me a laugh.

Next came Radio Foreplay which was one of my favourite plays of the evening, it gave me a lot of laughs, Alexander Pankhurst was hilarious as Robin, someone obviously high up on the ladder trying to compromise with his superior about taking a play from “Mac” for their BBC4 show. He was someone you could see in the role in a day-to-day basis. Although there was personal innuendoes it was very cheeky and they didn’t take a lot to work out what they meant, this piece was a real success.

Blue Tent started the second Act, you entered after interval to a tent on stage with a man asleep in it. This was an unusual piece, Ian is in the tent and you work out half way through he is dying, which is hard to watch as Ian gave such a real and heartfelt performance particularly when reminiscing on the past. You feel bad when the pair are arguing over the smallest thing e.g. cooking food. Mark is the loyal friend who sticks with his friend till the end, which although hard was endearing to watch, and the pair worked really well together.

Almost Connect An enjoyable piece involving two gender sets of characters, one pair acting as guides to help the other two to connect and talk. The girls have a reserved entrance, with one noticing the flaws and good in the men they’re looking at. Both are offering suggestions to say to engage the other in conversation. It’s not until the man leaves, you realise he was really interested. You are informed he was doing the crossword entering only the answers that she gave him. Sian worked perfectly and her facial expressions and charisma were brilliant as was Josh Morter. I had such a laugh watching them, both helping Jennie Delaney and Robbie Curran. All four worked perfectly together.

The final piece, Two Tales was really clever. There was two characters, played by Louise Beresford and Duncan Mason, a couple about to have an affair but then portrayed the two characters of the opposite sex. It was executed brilliantly. I really enjoyed the talk in the background when the characters were talking about the end of the world. As the stars were dimming, the lights dimmed as each of the stars left the sky.

The whole night, was full of amazing theatre, all these playwrights should be proud of what they have created. I hope to see these pieces somewhere soon, they absolutely deserve to be seen by wider audiences.

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