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REVIEW: Trajectory at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

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A Fine Farewell

Coracle Productions in partnership with Alphabetti Theatre, with support from Arts Council England present
Trajectory – a double bill
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Until Saturday 4th March 2017

Life After by Arabella Arnott
Bricks & Mortar by Steve Byron

As the centre of Newcastle’s fringe theatre scene, Alphabetti Theatre, is about to enter its final week in the current basement venue, it is host to a double bill of new plays.  Whilst there’s a big difference in the two plays, they do work well together and make it worth a trip to Newcastle’s “best kept secret venue”.

The first production was Life After which looks at a couple of adults who friends but are not in a relationship. When Sophie died a year ago, it left a big gap in both partner Simon’s and sister Helen’s life. The story starts in the living room of Helen’s house.

Neither Helen or Simon currently have a partner, and Helen is looking for work so they discuss making plans to change that. Simon eventually suggests speed dating and this sets in motion a look into some of the complications of the dating scene in later life.

Writer Arabella Arnott appears as Helen, who is keen for change and Carl Kennedy is Simon who is not always as keen on Helen’s games. Under Director Matt Jamie, the two actors hold your attention as each detail of the past year is revealed. 

The hour long tale has a number of scenes and costume changes and this does affect the pace a little.  Without giving any spoilers away, the tale does reach a suitable conclusion. This sense of closure and the quality of the acting make this a fascinating watch.

After the interval the living room set was modified into the council house belonging to Mary in Steve Byron’s play Bricks & Mortar.  Paula Penman is both enigmatic and funny as the widow who gives a running commentary, as she peers through her window blinds, looking at the events outside. This was the house she had shared with her husband and son. The two men in her life have both died and so the council feel it is time to reallocate the large building to a bigger family. Mary, on the other hand, has other ideas.

The play, directed by Gary Kitching, has great pace and a sense of humour as Mary considers her options in the face of bureaucratic opposition. The poor council official that has paid Mary a visit is played by the equally as wonderful David John Hopper. His reaction to being offered tea or a bacon sandwich is a delight.  This particular story is just a short one, at about 20 minutes, but this double act gave the audience plenty of chances to laugh.

Alphabetti has enabled shows like these two to have a platform to be seen without a trip to Edinburgh Fringe.  The room was nearly full on the Thursday evening when we saw the show and this confirms there is an appetite to experience quality new writing like that on stage tonight.  Having followed Alphabetti since its days above a pub, we hope the new Alphabetti venue opens as soon after the closure of the current one.

Review by Stephen Oliver.

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Twitter: @coracleNE @alphabetti

When: Wednesday 1st – Saturday 4th March 2017
Where: Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement, 18 New Bridge Street West, NE1 8AW
Tickets £8/£6.

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