Tag Archives: Stephanie Withers

Sam. The Good Person

The Bunker

Sam. The Good Person

Sam. The Good Person

The Bunker

Reviewed – 15th January 2019



“a black comedy but with a triple measure of black and just a sip of comedy”


Sam, The Good Person is not only a one-man show; the only actor is also the only writer. Declan Perring as the eponymous Sam, performs seventy five minutes of intense, sometimes comic soliloquy set during group therapy, as he recalls his life story so far. It is a story that some will recognise in a small way from their own life as Sam desperately craves the approval of others, but the extreme lengths he goes leads to, lead to a lifetime of lying and deception, culminating in extreme sadness.

Perring offers up an energetic and solid performance of Sam, punctuated with other characters and interludes which signify the panic attacks which the ultimately dislikeable Sam begins to experience. In the show, a handful of people are conspicuously missing as Perring tries to animate each of Sam’s Mother and Father, his childhood friend, his stalker from his youth and lastly his girlfriend of five years. Like a general seeking glory against the odds and so taking the battles he shouldn’t, Perring’s valiant effort on stage only masks his decision not to give full life to characters who so clearly warranted it. Director Stephanie Withers is complicit in this merry action with Perring jumping up and down from his seat and switching voices leaving it unclear whether this is Sam’s internal vision of these people or a real flashback fashioned by a mettlesome writer.

With the script itself, there is yet more complexity from strong, meaningful themes with real depth intertwined cutting against cliche lines and characters. This is a writer and a director who understand the realities of how anxiety turns good people into bad ones, and how that tension unfolds in the moment. Sam is grappling not just with the desire to be liked but his own condemnation of that desire, and he is moved faster and faster as he ricochets off those two points. It’s, therefore, more unfortunate that, at times, the script slips quietly into cliches such as ‘being noticed by the opposite sex’ or ‘the drugs made me numb, which I liked’. This tidy shorthand inevitably picks away at the deep feeling of authenticity or even autobiography.

Sam. The Good Person is a black comedy but with a triple measure of black and just a sip of comedy for a perfunctory chaser. The play culminates in real, total misery as Sam spirals downwards and the jokes peter out. Perring and Withers whisk the audience from spiky one-liners into a modern tragedy and with all the inevitability and fatedness of an ancient one. An interesting play with tapered peaks of authenticity and personal meaning set between shadowy valleys of missing actors, the somewhat dislikeable main character and a twist at the end which is less M. Night Shyamalan and more “then I woke up from a dream, or did I…’


Reviewed by William Nash

Photography by William Alder


Sam. The Good Person

The Bunker until 19th January


Last ten reviewed at this venue:
Libby’s Eyes | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nine Foot Nine | ★★★★ | June 2018
No One is Coming to Save You | ★★★★ | June 2018
Section 2 | ★★★★ | June 2018
Breathe | ★★★★ | August 2018
Eris | ★★★★ | September 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018


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Review of Lead Suspect – 4 Stars

Lead Suspect thespyinthestalls

Lead Suspect

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 18th July 2017





“Liam Mansfield is excellent as Scott the Scottish Terrier, the Sherlock Holmes of our story with a feisty attitude and a lot of tartan.”


Have you ever wondered what actually goes on in the mind of your canine friend? Does he interpret things the same way you do? Does she sense trouble a mile off? Do they know more than they are letting on?

lead suspect

Well fear not, as writer and director Stephanie Withers takes you on an intriguing journey of the notorious 2015 Crufts Dog Show poisoning, told from the perspective of our puppy pals.

‘Off the Middle’ is a theatre company dedicated to producing quality new-writing and creative storytelling. Liam Mansfield is excellent as Scott the Scottish Terrier, the Sherlock Holmes of our story with a feisty attitude and a lot of tartan.

Lead suspect

Both Stephanie de Whalley and Paul Hilliar switch between radically different characters throughout the performance, from high maintenance Fluffy the Chihuahua to ex Andrex puppy star Lucy the Labrador.

Withers, herself a huge fan of dogs, plays on all the stereotypes in this work. Fluffy’s line ‘people just love a dog they can pop in their handbag’ not only makes the audience laugh but allows them to imagine the sort of person who would own a dog like Fluffy. Are dogs really similar to their owners? Delving into the competitive politics of dog shows, our characters portray just how cut-throat these events can be and how far participants are willing to go to win or defend their titles.

Lead suspect

Highlights from the performance include the fantastic array of props (or should I say, many different sets of animal ears) the constant classic dog puns ‘barking mad’, ‘teach an old dog new tricks’ and one of my personal favourite scenes whereby our narrator, Scott the Scottish Terrier, is put on the spot to perfectly execute his dog show routine whilst preoccupied with questions about who poisoned Serena the Setter.

Can he remain a champion under all of this stress?


Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

King's Head Theatre thespyinthestalls



is at The King’s Head Theatre until 20th July



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