Theatre / john bassett

Review: Theatre West: The Orator, acta centre

By nicola yeeles, Thursday Sep 29, 2016

If it’s original theatre you want, there’s no better way to shake up your autumn than by going to one of Theatre West’s fresh plays by local talent.

Marietta Kirkbride’s one-act play is no exception – and it’s in the brand new theatre space at Bedminster’s acta centre to boot.

In a world where online writing packs such a punch, Kirkbride’s one-woman play has a whole lot of relevance. Jenna is an American blogger living with long-term illness, who interacts online with a community of followers eager to gain her insights and advice.

The 28-year-old Nebraskan blogs on topics from her experience of the illness to immortality, often with amusing consequences. Performer Rebecca Newman works well with the screen that displays her conversations with her followers, friends and, increasingly, the mysterious David, whose wife has the same illness.

As Jenna and David grow closer online, it’s clear that all is not as it seems – but we can’t tell who is authentic and who isn’t, so when the final twist comes, it’s far from expected. Supported by an excellent video and suitably techy sound effects, this compelling piece of theatre deserves a wide audience.

To whet your appetite for all of this, John Lomas performs The Driver in a short theatrical entrée. Lomas’ unhurried style works well for the confident train driver, who is taking the audience as passengers on his last trip of the day – but there’s a threatening undertone which leaves us asking more questions than are answered. Short it may be, but this pithy appetiser is a resounding success for writer John Bassett.

The Orator continues at the acta centre, Bedminster until Saturday, October 8. For more info, visit www.theatre-west.co.uk/index.php?page=autumn and to book tickets, visit theorator.brownpapertickets.com 

See here for our preview feature on the entire Theatre West season.

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