Bread Review – 10th November 2017, AJ’s Coffee House (City Road, Cardiff)

Simultaneously bleak and hilarious, this simple two-person production is a touching show about love, trust and the end of the world.

★★★★☆

The apocalypse is coming, and the end is at hand. Stuck together in a cramped basement/bunker, two women huddle together and reminisce. They talk about everything, from the mundane (remember they used to have tubes of yogurt, how excessive!) to the profound (what does the end of the world smell or sound like) to the intimate (a stolen kiss in the rain). Their recollections are impressively performed by Faebian Averies and Seren Vickers, whose chemistry and performances are totally believable. They perform their roles as a couple who are at once totally in love with each other, and totally bored of each other’s company. Stuck together for an unspecified amount of time with no other human interaction, they are still able to make light of eating the same tinned foods over and over, or discussing the same things.

As the play progresses we learn that there are things the couple have kept from one another – partly as a way of having enough to talk about until the very end, and partly as a way of hiding painful experiences to protect each other. One such story involving Faebian Averies character forms the dramatic crux of the piece, and retells her trip to the surface (now dangerously polluted by some mysterious event) and chance encounter with another human being. The imagery and dialogue is absolutely gripping, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats until its dramatic conclusion. It is a stunning piece of writing and acting combining to be incredibly effective and heartbreaking.

The staging and directing of the piece was simple and effective too. Performed in traverse with audience members on either side of the stage, we get a real sense of closeness with the action. AJ’s Coffee House is a small venue, with seats for only approx 30-40 audience members, and so this configuration lends itself to a small venue for intimate performances. The set consisted of a wall of empty plastic water tanks, a table and chairs, and a collection of cardboard boxes filled with tins and jars of supplies. This simple set evoked exactly the atmosphere needed. Miriam Dorfner’s directing was well staged, with her decision to have the actors in profile for the majority of the performance meaning that there were very few points where we couldn’t see both the actors faces.

Well acted and well directed, the true star of this production is the excellent script. Written by James Sarson in his writing debut, the writing manages to combine the emotive with the trivial to excellent effect. The world of the play has enough detail in it to feel real, but with enough mystery to not feel over-explained. We know the world is about to end, and are given details and descriptions about animals dying, about polluted air and rust coloured skies but are never given a detailed explanation of how or why the world is about to end. This lack of detail draws the attention to the stories being told, rather than focusing on the apocalyptic setting. While occasionally being over-laden with expletives (to the extent that the F-word begins to lose meaning), the script is powerful and evocative. The production is short, running at approx 40-45 minutes, and as the lights went down, there was a sense from the audience that they wanted more. With a little extra work, the production could easily be extended to a full hour without loosing any of its impact. An excellent writing debut from Sarson, powerfully produced by Clock Tower Theatre Co.

 

Bread is running until 11th November, and there are still limited tickets left for the final performance. For more information and to book, click here

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