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Review: Gated Community at Newcastle Alphabetti

Gated Community
by Handheld Arts
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Saturday 20th February 2016

Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre is at the centre of the cities fringe scene. As it approaches its first birthday it continues to draw in the productions which, while worthy of an audience, are not yet of the scale that warrants the interest of the larger venues. The end results are shows on Newcastle’s doorstep that are at the quality end of the Edinburgh Fringe. Add in a good value bar and the venue is well worth hunting down.

Gated Community from Handheld Arts is an example of the entertaining quality productions that are the trademark of Alphabetti’s programming policy.

Alex Garforth and Sarah-Jane Wingrove have devised and designed a production that uses an innovative mixture of powerpoint, video and a good old-fashioned overhead projector to illustrate a number of linked stories.

The story starts in Victorian times. A family want to escape the smoke and crime in London so they build a big house in Kent. Through illness and war the estate ends up in probate when the final child dies. The developers bought the land, flattened the house and build a gated community consisting of eight houses.  Gated Community follows some of the stories of what happens behind the closed doors.

Drawing from classic films such as Stephen King’s Misery, The Wicker Man and 2001 A Space Odyssey, the strange goings on have a lot in common with scary movies.  The narration of the tales by Sarah-Jane WIngrove and Shu-Yi Chun has more in common with an episode of Jackanory. The exposition is often delivered in poetic verse which in turn makes the stories much funnier when they reach their sometimes gory conclusion.

For example the first story was about a controversial newspaper columnist who moves to the estate to avoid the protesters outside of her house. In the style of a classic horror film she discovers that she is not alone in the house. But rather than be scared by the fat ghost, she decides to put it on an exercise regime which had the audience laughing.

Other stories include hi tech houses that become a problem for their occupants and what happens when a burglar picks on the wrong householder.

Gated Community had more opportunities for laughter than some so-called comedies we’ve seen on bigger stages.

The show has a running time of about 40 minutes which means it is possible to start your night out at the theatre, see this show and then continue your evening out.

Through classic storytelling, Gated Communityis a fun show with a horror theme that, like the venue, is well worth seeking out.

On The Web:
Twitter: @HandheldArts #TheGatedCommunity

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter

When: Wednesday 17th - Saturday 20th February. Bar Opens6.30pm. Performance starts 7.30pm
Where: Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement of 18 New Bridge Street West Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW

Ticket Price: £7 / £5
Running Length: 45 minutes
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