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Tatchell & ShortStuff (WET REP)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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The concept of two one-act plays in rep induces excitement of a lot of bang for your buck, and the new season at Waterloo East Theatre delivers - alas it's more of a punch, with a limp wrist than an almighty thwack.

This is mainly due to the first act, Tatchell by Jonathan Bonfiglio. An arduous play about two past loves reuniting on a rooftop somewhere in London. Stephen (Luis Dominic) a political aide to Peter Tatchell’s election campaign who has failed, and just to add insult to injury, Anna (Lucy Roslyn) the former love of his life has turned up as a professional photographer for the event. Unfortunately the air on the rooftop whiffs of negativity and continues to grow into a cyclone of pity as the actors trip over the flabby and inane script without any sexual chemistry between them.

The evening is saved by the second act, ShortStuff by Anna Jordan which comprises of three shorts with the loose theme of despair amongst the unprivileged on a gritty contemporary housing estate. Closer to God is expertly delivered with punch and subtlety as it skirts around distasteful issues of a single mother (Claire Cahill) and an intolerable old man (Peter Gordon). Both stand out for their strong, entrancing performances delivered on a bare stage.

Bed of Foxgloves lightens the mood adding comedy and movement between three likeable quirky characters with an unorthodox burial on their hands. Alison King as Esme powers through the script with panache and care leading the action and the wonderful sensitive quips and commotion which ensues.

The trilogy completes with the most powerful of the three shorts. Coming Home packs by far the most impact, combining both a razor sharp script and pacy performances from Jai Rajani and Adrian Quinton as brothers Taz and Solman. The real negative is leaving the quaint, fresh new theatre with such a sour taste from Coming Home's content and outcome.

All in all, it's a dysfunctional family of bitesize productions, but if it were not for Tatchell and its lack of direction and pace, I’d recommend it fully.

- Rebecca Weymouth


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