Tag Archives: Rikki Beadle-Blair



The Turbine Theatre

WRECKAGE at The Turbine Theatre



“Rikki Beadle-Blair directs with a flair that matches the heightened narrative”


In Anthony Minghella’s film ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’, Alan Rickman’s character returns from the dead specifically to help Juliet Stevenson get over him by tarnishing her idealised memory of him. As a ghost, he irritates her and behaves in ways that infuriate her. In Tom Ratcliffe’s “Wreckage”, now playing at the Turbine Theatre, a similar concept is deployed, but without the poignancy of Rickman’s intention. The two characters, dead or alive, seem to spend a lot of time irritating each other, dredging up past (and future) frustrations and misdemeanours. Although in between there are abundant declarations of love and we eventually understand that the shouty tantrums are, in effect, signifiers of grief.

Ratcliffe’s script is finely crafted and chronologically complex, moving between the past, present and future. Sam (Tom Ratcliffe) and Noel (Michael Walters) are in the perfect relationship. Noel, being older, more laid back and assured, is often the one to smooth out Sam’s rattled and jumpy mind. This is established at the outset during which Noel agrees to rush out on an errand to placate Sam, grabbing the car keys, promising to be back in twenty minutes. The scene, and its tragic consequence, is played out multiple times, reflecting the torturous “if only…” reaction that loops in Sam’s mind – possibly forever.

Separated by death, the couple become paradoxically inseparable and what ensues is an exploration of guilt and grief. Ratcliffe effectively portrays the torment of how to cope with loss as he battles with what to cling on to and what (or rather when) to move on. The ‘reality’ of Noel’s ghost in his mind is powerful enough for Noel to take over and control the narrative. The passion brought out in the performances is undeniable, but any true sense of heartbreak is undermined by a complete lack of subtlety. We long for more poignancy and silence amidst the shouting and screaming and writhing.

Despite a reluctance to tone down the performances, Rikki Beadle-Blair directs with a flair that matches the heightened narrative, and with the clever use of video projections and Rachel Sampley’s lighting we are guided clearly through the shifts in time. We witness the couple meeting for the first time, and we are privy to posthumous revelations of infidelity. The influence of in-laws and wranglings of property and possessions are explored in an ingenious fashion by the writing, casting fresh perspective on what would normally be a run of the mill relationship. We are asked to think, and to challenge our preconceptions about how we might cope. But ultimately, as compelling as it is on paper, the emotional connection is left wanting.

The idea is not new, but the execution is innovative. The tag line is “I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you”. Sam is young when he loses the love of his life and he goes on to live a long, fulfilling life. The message is that ‘love never dies’, and they will eventually be reunited. In a hurried finale, we are treated to a slideshow of Sam’s three-score-years-and-ten that lead up to their reunion. It is a lifetime, during which Sam does move on. But is he living a lie all along?

“Wreckage” draws you in, and whirls you around in its turmoil with two (for the most part) terrific performances. But it is strangely unmoving. Petulance too often pushes grief out of the way, while the mixed message gets in the way. The character you most feel for is the underwritten Christian – Sam’s new, lifelong, partner (very briefly played by Walters). He puts up with Sam for life, while all along Sam is yearning for the day that he can join Noel again – for eternity. Really? Come on – you spent most of your time arguing!



Reviewed on 11th January 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography courtesy Harlow Playhouse




Previously reviewed at this venue:

My Son’s A Queer But What Can You Do | ★★★½ | June 2021
My Night With Reg | ★★★★ | July 2021
Diva: Live From Hell | ★★★★★ | August 2022

Click here to read all our latest reviews


My Dad's Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre

My Dads Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 1st February 2019



“Although the dialogue is often a bit wooden, there are flashes of cleverness and adept humour. However, the story is as directionless as its protagonist”


Eighteen-year-old, gay, repressed William (Alex Britt) is gearing up for a gap year of work experience at a marketing firm. But his free-spirit, alcoholic, “try-everything-once” father Dave (Adam Lannon) has other plans for him. Dave surprises William with plane tickets to Thailand. Screw work experience; William needs life experience. William is going to take a proper gap year, and Dave is going with him.
My Dad’s Gap Year is a sleek production by design team Sarah Beaton (set and costume), Derek Anderson (lighting), and Benjamin Winter (sound). The stage is a raised, square platform with a pit in the centre. The cold blue and magenta lights reflect on the sterile white stage. It’s a striking, well-executed aesthetic. Whether it serves the story is another question. I’m not fully convinced it does.

The script, by Tom Wright, explores worthy subjects, including the ways alcoholism affects families, and transgender issues. Although the dialogue is often a bit wooden, there are flashes of cleverness and adept humour. However, the story is as directionless as its protagonist. William’s journey to Thailand is something that’s been forced on him. He’s passive. There’s nothing to feel invested in, because there’s nothing he’s trying to do. Dave is equally adrift. They party, they meet people, they try new things – William learns to loosen up, and a twist is revealed about Dave – but it’s a scattering of scenes that don’t feel like they’re adding up to anything. There are big moments of confrontation and melodrama, but because they’re not formed from a building story, we end up watching from a place of detachment.

The problem with audience investment is further exacerbated by the fact that William is unsympathetic. He’s a pious, judgmental, “disrespectful little brat,” as his mother finally calls him. He chastises his mum for not prioritising his needs over her own. He’s abusive and transphobic toward Dave’s Thai girlfriend. Because we aren’t given anything to compensate for William’s unlikability, it’s difficult to care what happens to him.

The two non-English characters rely heavily on cultural tropes: the sexualised, non-monogamous, Spanish Matias (Max Percy), and the Thai “ladyboy” Mae (Victoria Gigante), who speaks in stereotypical broken English. Because Wright doesn’t seem to have any insight into the cultures he’s invoked, his use of them as background for a narrative about a white family feels careless.

At the moment, My Dad’s Gap Year is a pool of characters, backstories, and ideas. If Wright can find the plot, the play will be much stronger.


Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by Pamela Raith


My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre until 23rd February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Distance | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Other Place | ★★★ | September 2018
And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You | ★★★★ | October 2018
Dangerous Giant Animals | ★★★ | October 2018
Honour | ★★★ | October 2018
A Pupil | ★★★★ | November 2018
Dialektikon | ★★★½ | December 2018
Peter Pan | ★★★★ | December 2018
Rosenbaum’s Rescue | ★★★★★ | January 2019
The Dame | ★★★★ | January 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com