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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Review: Continuum at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre




Continuum written by Richard Stockwell
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Until Friday 25th March 2016

Written by Richard Stockwell, originally developed with Live Theatre

Directed & Produced by Ali Pritchard
Assistant Producer Josie Deacon

Performed by:
Matt Jamie
Rosie Stancliffe
Arabella Arnott
James Barton

Designed by James Pickering

Continuum began its life as a new piece of writing at Newcastle’s Live Theatre. Ali Pritchard has now produced a new version of the play that they hope to take on tour. Based upon the opening preview night, the intense show has real potential.

Jenny (Rosie Stancliffe) pays partner Ben (Matt Jamie) a visit every day in hospital. Ben has been in a coma since his car crash and hence he doesn’t respond to her monologue about the nature of domestic life.  For once she can rant about how he lives beyond their collective means without fear of any come back.

Adding to Jenny’s frustration is the fact that the doctor (Arabella Arnott) is reluctant to discuss the case as Jenny is not the next of kin. Eventually Ben awakes but the impact to his brain has robbed him of significant parts of his memory. Jenny and Dr Carol then attempt to rehabilitate Ben, who may have lost his memory but now has a different personality.

The production takes place in the centre of the venue, with tiered seating on both sides. James Pickering’s design relies on a significant number of technical lighting changes as the conversation oscillates between Ben’s internal dialogue and conversations with Jenny and with his physician. The rapid interplay helps create an intensity.

Rosie Stancliffe and Arabella Arnott play strong leads as women trying to be understanding but having their own baggage to deal with. It is easy to have empathy for Rosie’s character as she tries to make sense of the situation. Arabella shows the patience and sacrifices made by health professionals. James Barton completes the line up of actors as he tries to come to grips with Ben’s recent actions.

Matt Jamie brings Ben alive, complete with all of the contradictions that can result from a mental trauma.  It would have been easy for him to go over the top resulting in a character that it was difficult to care about. Having said that, the plays’ dialogue makes this show unsuitable for children.

The show is well worth checking out, especially when you consider that it is on a “pay what you decide” basis. You can reserve tickets and pay what you feel it is worth upon departure. This is a brave decision which the theatre hopes will encourage theatre goers to take a punt as there is no risk to their bank balance.

Continuum is a powerful study into the fragility of relationships and the imposition that comes with caring for someone.  A strong cast ensures that no performance disintegrate into caricature. It is another show that will help put Alphabetti on the North East theatre map for excellence without major cost.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo.

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview: LINK 


Tickets:
When: Performance starts 7:30pm
Where Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement of 18 New Bridge Street West Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW

Ticket Price: Pay what you feel

Running Length Approx 1 hour.
Age Recommendation 14+ (please be aware strong language is used)








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