“The space is wonderfully navigated, a clear indication of the quality of Luke Davies’ direction”
The smell of late night takeaway wafts through the space as we enter the living room of a flat on a South Yorkshire council estate. Pat has been having violent dreams and they are making him scared of himself. When he meets Danny, a family friend of his mums in the pub, Danny invites him back to his flat to implement a tailored therapy course that he assures Pat will heal him, but this is a sinister sort of therapy involving violence and cricket bats, and Pat isn’t allowed to leave.
The script is fantastically crafted, awfully inevitable yet still pumped with a claustrophobic sense of suspense. Joseph Skelton, the play’s writer, is a clear talent, mixing humour with darkness and presenting a narrative of desperate manipulation and complete abuse of power and trust.
Both characters are beautifully layered, lonely and confused and in crisis, in a climate where male mental health issues are notoriously under discussed and masculinity is defined by power. Robert Walter plays Danny, a man who is so fragile he is dangerous. Pat is played by Hugh Train, wide-eyed with the hope and optimism of this therapy, this friendship, later jaded and darker. Walters and Train deliver faultless performances, both as a pair and individually, at ease onstage, never dropping the pace for a moment.
The design is beautifully thought through, detailed and coherent, tied together by the repeating red of the furniture, the lampshade, a ketchup bottle, a sleeping bag. The space is wonderfully navigated, a clear indication of the quality of Luke Davies’ direction.
This is a brilliant piece of theatre, well-written, well-executed and unapologetically dark, investigating masculinity, mental health and abuse with an unflinching depth.
“simply not enough context or exploration of what the information told us”
A quaint venue on the side streets of Clapham with a lively bar for a Tuesday evening, the Bread and Roses Theatre hosted Constance & Eva by Kimberly Campanello. A story focused on two privileged sisters during the early 20th century who through political activism and passion for women’s rights became infamous in their time.
This was a well researched piece and the audience was provided with a lot of information. Arguably too much to take in. The set was simple and effective and separated the two sisters as per their story. The use of projected videos highlighted the relevance of their story to both political issues of the time, and current issues surrounding Trump, walls, borders, immigration, women’s rights and equality that are still causing debate and are reported in the media daily.
Unfortunately the depth of information was let down by the performance. The script was bleak and unforgiving. Watching actors press play on a tape recorder, listening to voice overs and watching projections occupied the majority of the audience’s time, which, in this less than 60 minute piece, was a substantial amount.
I was particularly disappointed by the depiction of Eva (Hannah Berry) on a march campaigning for women’s rights. Sat on the front row I expected to be blown away by the, albeit old school, megaphone. In fact the actor showed little passion and I felt did not do their well researched protagonist any justice.
Constance’s performance (Charlotte Gallagher) was a little more promising and her monologue was certainly passionate. However throughout there was simply not enough context or exploration of what the information told us. The story. Who they were. What they did. We found this out through fact and voice over, not through depiction of the two sisters stood before us.
The avant garde elements whereby the actors introduced themselves at the beginning and showed images of them in various costumes depicting Eva and Constance was amusing and provided hope for the piece. Unfortunately with little movement within the text, voice or stage, this performance was a struggle to watch.
I’ve awarded two stars due to the in-depth research this production received, and the clear passion for the topic by the company. It’s a real shame this was not reflected in the final product.
Reviewed by Lucy Marsh
CONSTANCE AND EVA
is at the Bread & Roses Theatre until 27th September