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Belt Up's Twenty Minutes to Nine

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Enter the claustrophobic confines of Eleanor's dressing room and listen to her reminisce, gossip and chatter. This reclusive character – who is apparently very old, but puzzlingly played by a fresh-faced young woman – is thrilled to have company to talk to, so make sure you come prepared to talk back.

Lucy Farrett has more anecdotes up her lacy sleeves than there would ever be time to get through during one performance of the show, meaning that the actor has the freedom to be genuinely responsive to her audience. Using this as a starting point, the piece sets out to explore the limits of audience interaction and character drama.

It's an admirable aim, but unfortunately not one that Belt Up can be said to have achieved with this show. Farrett's commitment to her character is impressive and she is natural when it comes to engaging with audience members, but the show's sedentary setting is not conducive to risk-taking interaction. Not all interactive theatre need be promenade, of course, but there is something about physical involvement in a piece of work that helps to break down diffidence in the audience and encourage responsive behaviour. By seeking to engage audiences in this show using conversation only, Belt Up has set itself a challenge too great.


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