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“BED”  & “SOFA”

Breakaway always give us something different, and the two plays were certainly that – one was rather weird and thought-provoking, the other very funny – so together, they made a good evening’s entertainment.

I will start with “Bed”, as that was the first piece.  It featured a huge bed with a group of people forced to sleep in it together, overseen by a malevolent headboard and two ‘Nobodies’ entirely dressed in black who facilitated the moving of props throughout the play.  Jim Cartwright is renowned for his rather ‘different’ pieces and it was certainly that – it explored the prior lives of the sleepers – thrown together in the bed, and I thought all the performances came together well, and made it very interesting.  

There was the girl who had lost a baby – a very poignant moment from Stephanie Jones, a sea captain who had nightmares about a storm and shipwreck, played with conviction by Ashley Wade.  Through to the spinster, that had Jill Davies recounting her life as an untouched woman, which was also very telling.

Clare Waller was a very ebullient Bosom lady – who was supposed to have been a dancer/showgirl, but which was open to doubt! – there were good touches in the portrayal.  Emma Summers played Charles, the man who had been a bit of a roué I felt – very old school, an excellent portrayal, with Victoria Dundas and Niamh White as an old couple who were beset by memory loss, and had lived together for so long they knew what the other was going to say.

The whole was overlooked by John Kensett as the Sermon Head – peeping out of the bedhead and trying to keep them all in order – he has a very expressive face so the part was well-suited to him.

The movement over the bed was nicely done, and there were some good contrasts between the various characters.  This was a play that could have been dull and a bit dreary, but it managed to be interesting and lively in parts, whilst quiet and reflective in others.  

Now to “Sofa”, which was highly amusing, and contained a true to life slant.  We started with a bang, Abi Giles as the delightful Margaret, very snobbish with her handmade Italian sofa that had just been delivered – and following  the rounds it made in its life. The sparky relationship between her and Les her husband, was very good – Chris Baker acted the slightly lower class often drunk husband very well.

I loved Dan Quirke’s Billy – he gave the character a good variety of emotions, and was exceedingly funny – good comic timing.  His slightly awkward approach to his arranged date, and the way he approached the girl who eventually became his wife – was hilarious.   Kat Wiener as Mandy was a good foil for Billy, she showed a good understanding of her character.

I liked the rather tentative relationship between Carly and Aaron, played by Jody Stewart and Dom Garcia – they created another dimension to the full on Mandy and Jim and the awkward Billy and Mandy.  Steph Cotter created a good catalyst as the rather fey and flakey Jane – writing her suicide notes and giving her view on what the couple should be doing.  

I liked Don Charters as the meter reader Dave – he was just right and although it was a small part he gave it good all round feeling.

The scene change music was good, and the changes accomplished well – with the sofa always the star!!  I also liked the round up at the close of the play, telling us what had actually happened to everyone after we’d left them.

So all in all an intriguing evening – with two very different plays, both done very well.  I think Breakaway always manage to do something different that is both interesting and unusual, and always well-acted and directed.

Nova Horley

Breakaway Theatre Company

BED” directed by Rob Lewis

SOFA” directed by Pete Hawes

review date: 11th Feb 2012

Abbey Theatre Studio, St.Albans


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