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100 Miles North of Timbuktu/Honest (Bristol - Alma Tavern)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Tonight’s proceedings open with a short play by Tom Phillip’s 100 Miles North of Timbuktu. The piece is a lovely comic short dealing with two characters realising they have the ability to control the world’s weather from an old laptop. Zac (Danann McAleer) is the brains behind the operation and he quickly realises the potential hazards of playing with nature. His business partner in the scheme Pete (Eoin Slattery) is far less concerned with any adverse side effects and sees the economic and short-term gain behind their discovery – a sunny jubilee, a non rain delayed Wimbledon. Their scheme is put into jeopardy by the arrival of an officious government agent Claire (Suzi Davies) and the two men do all they can to protect their innovation and future fortune. Phillip’s funny and timely script is directed with fast moving ease by Alison Comley with the three actors delivering laugh out loud performances.

Alice NicholasHonest explores the difficult transition from leaving school to stepping into the real world and the process of finding out who your friends really are. Nicholas’ script effectively shows us the insecurities and cruelty of adolescent relationships with some sharp and believable dialogue. Some secrets remain buried for a reason; sometimes unearthing them can be a dangerous thing. In a cemetery on the edge of the city two teenage girls are confronted with some hard truths and secrets which test their friendship to the limit. Into this volatile situation walks Coogan (Alex Stedman), another teenager a lot less worldly-wise than the two girls.

Night is approaching and the gates of ceremony are soon to be locked Maisie (Eleri Morgan) and Bel (Madeleine Leslay) have escaped the boredom of suburbia and parental control by sitting amongst the graves and tomb stones. Their long-standing friendship seems uneasy with resentments hinted at but never directly said. The pair are street-wise but there are hints that some of their confident bravado is a front and this is demonstrated early when Coogan jokingly attempts to frighten them with his arrival. Coogan is sweet natured and somewhat out of his depth with the two friends. During the course of the evening Coogan becomes a catalyst for deep seated issues to come to the fore and the new-comer becomes a scapegoat for much of the girl’s anger. There are touches of Lord of the Flies as mild bullying turns into something potentially a lot more serious and you are left to wonder how far the teenage protagonists will take things.

The three actors are excellent in their roles, creating clearly defined characters and subtly playing the transition in their moods as events progress. Director Alan Coveney’s energetic and atmospheric staging held my attention throughout and created real empathy for three very real characters.

Honest takes a hard but always engaging look at the difficulties of being young and how discovering the truth can often be a painful process.


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