cockroached head

Freya Sharp as Taylor, alone in the world except for . . . radio

Cockroached

Theatre 63

Old Joint Stock Theatre

*****

FORMED in February 2016, Theatre 63 is a small company of new graduates from Birmingham School of Acting (BSA)  and ‘Cockroached’  is their debut production. 

So what might you expect from a play, with such an unusual title, created by a group of new graduates?  Well we can assure you that we certainly weren’t expecting to be greeted by a delicious array of cupcakes before the performance!  Thanks go immediately to ASM and cupcake chief James Norton.

Written and co-directed by William Proudler with fellow co director Ruby Etches, this production, like the cupcakes, was a delightful surprise. We were taken aback by the professionalism, skill and maturity displayed in every aspect of this exciting and dramatic piece.

The script is superbly written by Proudler, with a well-balanced dialogue that is powerful, thought provoking, humorous and at times unnerving. The storyline set in a post-apocalyptic broken world, kept us riveted from interesting start to unexpected finish.

Taylor, on this occasion played by  Freya Sharp, is alone and isolated, trying to survive against the threat of the ‘things outside the door’  with only a plastic crow for company, three tins of canned fruit and a dwindling supply of water. That is until she finds Radio (Alexander George).  Radio was exactly that – a fully functioning radio on stage - and George was the dominating voice at the end of it. Their conversation, which begins as casual chatter (from Taylor) and indifference (from Radio), moves on through threatening suggestions, humour, personal insults, sexual suggestion and in the final moments results in a dramatic, unexpected climax.

Sharp was compelling in her delivery. She proved to be extremely talented actor and gave us the full gamut of her performing skills, not only acting but singing, dancing and even playing the ukulele! A mature, confident, versatile performance full of expression. George expertly created the unseen, dark, oppressive yet sometimes sensitive character of Radio, no mean feat when relying on voice alone. The use of a radio was a novel and interesting choice and certainly added another dimension to their performance, with both actors successfully mastering the timing and technological difficulties that this media must have presented.

Haunting music, which never detracted from the action, complimented by good lighting and a well designed set added to the atmosphere perfectly. The characters’ dialogue was poignantly interspersed with ‘old’ songs played over the radio such as Can't Help Falling in Love and Runaround Sue a reminder that ‘all the digital stuff had disappeared’ and only vinyl survived.  As the author explains it is a play ‘about connections or lack thereof.  It explores how we predispose ourselves to connecting to people we can’t see, online and on our phones’.

The production, which was written to be non gender specific, was played over two nights with Sharp and George swapping roles for each performance. We left wishing we’d had the opportunity to see both nights as we would have liked to see how the two actors compared and contrasted in each of the roles.

Fully self funded this highly talented group of creatives have excelled themselves. It is heart-warming to think that the future of theatre is safe in their hands. If their debut production is anything to go by, they have a very bright future in front of them. They are taking ‘Cockroached’ to the Edinburgh Fringe next year and are presently looking for more venues in which to stage it.

Check their website and follow them on facebook and twitter for notifications of future performances. http://theatre63.com/

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith

18-6-16 

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