Review: One Festival - Programme A

4 star rating
A wonderfully diverse blend of topics and characters, together with flawless performances all-round, mark a cracking start for this year's One Festival from The Space.
One Festival A at The Space

Image: The Space


Theatre: The Space

Closes here: Thursday 25 January 2018

Author:
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Synopsis


Programme A of the One Festival where celebrity, scandal and topiary collide in this evening of theatrical gems.


Featuring a host of eclectic characters, all with unforgettable stories to tell.


Treasure written and directed by Laura Kaye Thomson, performed by Jennifer Greenwood.

Alex has been left the key to the garden shed in her mother's will. There better be a mountain of cash inside.


Meeting Roman Polanski written by Janice Hallett, performed by Jessica White, directed by Adam Hemming.

Roman Polanski will arrive any moment now. Well how would you feel?


Inside Alan written and performed by Mitch Day, directed by Anthony Houghton.

Malcolm Collins has a problem of Alan Titchmarsh proportions.


A Sweet Life written by Guleraana Mir, performed by Alice Langrish, directed by Mingyu Lin.

Can Kelly's plastic surgery skills make all her human puppy dreams come true?


A Mighty Oak Conqueror written by Mike Carter, performed by Tom Michael Blyth, directed by Katherine Timms.

Does Brian, from St Alban's, need a reason to sit in a tree?


Background


The One Festival is back for its FINAL year.


Packed with unforgettable stories, bold new writing and world premieres, 19 brave performers take to the Space's stage, one by one.


Confessions, love … drunken fairy tales, the Festival's eclectic programme of work only has one thing in common - every piece is performed by just one actor.


Note: each programme in the festival will perform five times across three weeks.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Tuesday 9 January 2018
Review star rating image for 3 stars

The Space's One Festival is back in business but for what looks like the last time as the venue is planning to move on to other ventures in coming years.


The One Festival is notable in that it only schedules monologues, that means just one performer is tasked with delivering each piece.


With 4 packed programmes spread over three weeks, there's a wealth of material to see, and from my impressions of the first programme it looks like this year's festival is going to be a stunner.


Taking the stage on your own is no mean feat for actors, and none of the five who daringly tackle the pieces here disappoint, quite the contrary in fact - there's a huge amount of talent on display with bags of confidence bolstered by some fine directing.


Getting the right combination of writing and topics in each of the festival's programmes is a considerable skill in itself, and in programme A the organisers have done a first-rate job to create a rich combination of poignancy, humour and a touch of the bizarre to keep the audience intrigued, entertained and satisfied.


The longest of the monologues comes first in this programme with Jennifer Greenwood taking on the role of Alex whose mother has recently died and has left her daughter the key to a shed.


The shed holds memories for Alex as the special place her mother created for her to be happy and relaxed in when her parents split up.


Still grieving, Alex is looking for answers about her mother's demise, brought on by mental illness.


Next up, Jessica White is facing the daunting prospect of interviewing Roman Polanski.


A lovely, trumpet-led jazz introduction plays as Miss White wittily tries out positions in which to sit and greet her formidable subject.


Her undoubted admiration for the man as a genius film director conflicts with her abhorrence of his past sexual activities with a minor - a matter that will no doubt be reflected in others' thinking about the director of Rosemary's Baby.


After the interval, Mitch Day tackles his own work frantically describing Malcolm Collins, a man obsessed with Alan Titchmarsh and about to attend some kind of therapy group as the 'ex stalker' of the gardener and TV show host.


Inside Alan provides much of the comedy for this splendid evening, with Malcolm sporting a T-shirt bearing testament to his devotion of his gardener hero and delivering a detailed description of his invasion of the star's home.


Short and sweet, 'A Sweet Life' is, possibly, the oddest of the monologues with Alice Langrish playing a woman eager to take her admiration of members of the canine world to an extreme that is, to say the least, surprising.


Completing the programme, Tom Michael Blythe is an ordinary man, Brian, from St Albans who suddenly takes it into his head to break-out of his staid suburban routine by climbing ... a tree ... and where we find him swinging in the branches.


With this kind of programme, it's always tempting to select a favourite play or performance.


But even if I was inclined to do so, it would be an impossible task because the individual monologues cover such disparate ground and the performances so rich and varied.


That really isn't a cop out - and, after all, this isn't a competition.


In fact, for this kind of schedule to be effective, there's equal pressure on all the actors to deliver a quality performance since their individual work is part of a larger endeavour.


I certainly enjoyed all the performances immensely as well as the emotional range that this skilfully-selected and carefully scheduled assemblage of well-written monologues covers.


A wonderfully diverse blend of topics and characters, together with flawless performances all-round, mark a cracking start for this year's One Festival.


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