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REVIEW: Elevator Festival ★★★½ at Newcastle Live Theatre

Elevator Festival ★★★½
Newcastle Live Theatre
Until Saturday 17th March 2018

This week Live Theatre is showcasing a number of new works that they have supported through bursaries and professional support. This is a showcase of work in progress, some pieces are more complete than others. Knowing Live Theatre’s past form some of these plays will reappear in a fully fitted form at some point in the future. Tonight’s show on the main stage featured 2 very different productions which illustrate the diversity of the organisation’s output.

Spoon Theory
Written and Directed by Bex Bowsher
Co-directed by Tory Copeland
Performed by Steven Blackshaw, Lisa Eagleton & Graham Hornsby

Though there were 3 actors on stage, for the bulk of the show Bex Bowsher’s tale looked just at a married couples relationship after a tragedy. Lisa Eagleton is the newly wed who works out the logistics of how they will go on honeymoon. She likes to be in control but before they depart she is involved as a pedestrian as a victim of a road traffic collision. The impact of that incident is having most of a leg amputated plus other serious and painful surgery. The incident then impacts upon her relationship. Graham Hornsby is the husband trying to balance the act of carer and partner and the couple struggle to cope. In order to achieve some external support she applies for a PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and Steven Blackshaw performs as the variety of unemotional government representatives as the application goes through the various stages.

Spoon Theory has the potential to be the next I, Daniel Blake. A serious issue is raised and needs further exposure in order to bring about change in the system.  This is a work in progress, and cutting the story to begin immediately before the accident do not give the characters an opportunity to establish any on stage chemistry. It isn’t clear at the start why they are a couple and so it is harder to understand some of the reactions later on. Having said that, there is a strong heart to the tale which will make it worthwhile to carry on with its development. Certainly it would make a powerful tv or film drama.

Rat Boy
Written by Christina Berriman Dawson & Lee Mattinson
Directed by Christina Berriman Dawson
Creative Support Laura Lindow
Music Composed by Kirk Turnbull (QFX)
Choreographer Malcolm Shields
Performed by Christina Berriman Dawson, Micky Cochrane, James Hedley, Paula Penman & Christopher Price

The one man crime wave that was “Rat Boy” filled national newspapers back in the day. Christina Berriman Dawson and Lee Mattinson bring back a number of memories in the 90s with their energetic and lively tale.

Micky Cochrane and Paula Penman are the parents, though not a functioning couple who brought James Hedley’s eponymous character into the world but he has already upset both of them.  The term dysfunctional family appears to not come close to describe a family in which watching the Stars In Their Eyes or Crackerjack has greater priority over the safety of the family. Between the moments of laughter are some really tragic moments. Christina Berriman Dawson and Christopher Price are Rat Boys friends who actually care about the lad’s disappearance and try to seek him out.

The short section has lots of feel good memories to make the audience laugh, from watching the youngsters throwing their shapes to music that sounds familiar and of the time through to the Dad’s reactions to the TV.  A strong script coupled with some recognisable, if not always entirely likeable, characters makes for a charming experience.  This is another show that could easily be worked up into a full-length play for stage or screen.  

Live Theatre has got their festival off to a great start and the North East has a much stronger cultural scene thanks to the activities of the organisation. Long may it continue.   

Tickets for plays in Elevator Festival cost between £3 and £8, with some events free, and the Director’s Masterclass £10. Live Theatre has extended availability of its concession priced tickets to include all young people aged 25 and under, proof of age is needed when booking or collecting tickets.
To book tickets and to find out more contact Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232 or visit

Post show events

Fri 16 Mar (after 7.30pm show)
MEET THE MAKERS - Christina Dawson, Rebekha Bowsher and Graeme Thompson, Live Theatre’s Creative Producer, discuss making their plays and how winning Live Theatre bursaries aided their work.
FREE with a ticket for that evening’s performance.

Post Show Talks are audio recorded and can be listened to again on
BSL signed peformance (Sat 17 Mar)  
Live Theatre has also launched it’s call out for its 2018 Bursary offering £2,000, support and space to develop innovative new theatre for next year’s Elevator Festival. See for details.

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