Sunday, 15 April 2018

REVIEW: Plastic as The Old Red Lion

The Old Red Lion pub has been a place where I have seen some of the best fringe theatre; from plays to musicals the small studio space boasts a hearty CV of successful shows and its current production ‘Plastic’ is no different.

Set in some non specified estate in some non specified city, the lives of four young people are in front of us; half looking to the future whilst the other is stuck in the past. The crossover of their individual tales is like a plait in the continuum. A budding relationship between an older guy and a strained friendship between a lad who should have been popular yet held back by his strange friend are laid out for us.

Kev (Mark Weinman) used to be someone. Head of the football team, set up to move into the beautiful game professionally then let down at the last minute. Now clings on to his past by dating a secondary school girl, Lisa (Madison Clare), the popular girl who he would have been going out with if he was in fact at school. Ben (Thomas Coombes) is frankly weird, bullied to the point where he is at the point of breaking and there is a feeling of unsteadiness in him. His best, Jack (Louis Greatorex) friend has started to feel the pressure of their friendship and being tarnished with the same brush as Ben. Conflict arises, a vicious turn happens and the aftermath is disastrous (not wanting to give too much away).

This script is sheer perfection. Written by Kenneth Emson, this whole piece is spoken word. The monologue-esque script really carries the story forward. Dialogue intertwines perfectly without detracting from anyone’s truth. Each character is deep with intent and well developed. The script’s humour underlines the themes of disappointment, self loathing and rejection. Each part of the script acts as a different driver. Kev’s parts is a constant and strong monotony reflecting his dead end life, Ben’s is frantic and all over the place whilst Jack and Lisa’s plays more as narrator; four pieces of the same puzzle.

As the kid at school that was bullied for being different I associated with Ben the most. Thomas Coombes delivers everything I felt and thought (to a certain point) at school. This struggle delivered is immaculate. He is a wordsmith through and through, commanding the language and silences as if he were conducting an orchestra though a piece of Mozart’s music and he isn’t the only one. Each and every performer stands out on that stage for their control of the language and the audience. As good as Coombes is the real star of the show is Madison Clare. There is one moment in the play where she demands your attention. Taking each breath from the audience she envelops you in a vision that you don’t want to stop. This young lady who is ‘New to the graft’ is an ingĂ©nue with the experience of forty years. Her monologue towards the end of the show deserved a standing ovation alone.

The set is simple yet effective. Five colour changing bulbs on rails which could be moved back and forth gave eerie shadows and reinforced the tension that gradually built through the whole piece.

Reading a review of this play doesn’t do it justice, this is definitely one that has to be watched… no experienced. It will take you back to that moment you realised you were an adult. The day it either all clicked for you or you realised that you don’t actually have a clue what you’re doing with your life. Kenneth Emson’s script isn’t just a story but an experience based on experiences.

Plastic runs until the 21st of April and demands your attention. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

Review by Samuel Clemens 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Unallocated | Price of Ticket: £17

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