Review: Two Short Stories, Bread and Roses Theatre

Bag of Beard Theatre Company present Two Short Stories at the Bread and Roses Theatre. The company comprises of six graduates from Italia Conti drama school, who aim to create innovative and dynamic storytelling.

The two stories are vastly different. Torn Apart follows the story of a young brother and sister, celebrating Christmas in August because their original Christmas was such a disaster. Viv (Shauna McLean) is about to go off to university, to pursue her dream of becoming a singer; whilst recovering heroin addict Sam (Christopher Georgiou) is looking for a job.

The piece is reasonably engaging, without being thoroughly original or surprising. The performances from the two actors (who also wrote the script) are compelling and natural. They do a superb job in capturing a believable and charming brother/sister dynamic.

The writing was pacey, with moments of humour. Unfortunately, the piece fell short as it progressed. It feels as though the writing is forced, perhaps to the point of self-indulgence. The piece could perhaps benefit from development to focus on the naturalism of the story, as opposed to ending the play by randomly addressing the audience.

The second piece, Bath, written by Alexander Knott, follows two petty criminals, Sharkey (James Demaine) and Whitmore (Ryan Hutton) as they struggle to come up with money to satisfy their enigmatical boss, Mr Skinner (Joshua Nutbrown).

The writing in this piece is stunning. Knott writes with such pace and precision, it feels almost Beckett-like in its surreal style. Characters are often talking over each other, with hilarious use of repetition to emphasise the frantic nature of each situation.

The writing is also done justice by the acting performances. Particularly enjoyable is the chemistry between Hutton and Demaine. The scenes between the two are explosive and hilarious; and they give commanding and emphatic performances throughout. Nutbrown also gives a strong performance, confidently portraying his character with flair and panache. The set changes are slick, transforming the audience to a new environment seamlessly. It is a remarkably fast paced and enthralling piece, that has potential to be something special.

Bag of Beard Theatre Company show promise in Two Short Stories, producing an enjoyable evening. The vast differences between the two pieces display versatility as a company, showing that they can cover a wide range of different subject matters. There is however, a noticeable gulf in quality between the two stories, with Bath feeling like a polished product, whilst Torn Apart could benefit from some development.

Two Short Stories played at The Bread And Roses Theatre until 10 March.

Calum McIntosh

Calum is an Actor and Writer from London. In his spare time he enjoys football, travelling and creating theatre. He is currently writing a screenplay about Sunday League Football, and will be touring to America with The HandleBards in 2017.