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Tuesday, 17 December 2019

REVIEW: Present at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre


Alphabetti Theatre in partnership with homeless charity CRISIS present:
Present
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Tuesday 17th – Monday 23rd December 2019 (including Sunday & Monday)

Written and Directed by Ali Pritchard
Performed & Choreographed by Malcolm Shields
Live music from Diji Solanke, Martha Wheatley & Wilf Stone

Created in partnership with Crisis Skylight - 5% of ticket sales will be donated to Crisis at Christmas, the UK national charity for the homeless.

Dave is in a park and there is a party going on in his head. The audience at Alphabetti know this as the three strong band are creating the Faithless hit Insomnia and Malcolm Shields, who appears as Dave, is bouncing around between swigs of his cheap cider. Alphabetti’s artistic director Ali Pritchard writes and directs another production that examines the predicament that the growing number of homeless people find themselves in. This production, which opened tonight, demands a lot of the single actor but Malcolm Shields delivers, and the audience left with no uncertain knowledge that they had witnessed a great piece of theatre.

Yes, this production comes with a message. With the apparent possible opportunity of hope for our resourceful character, comes some of the harsh realities for the increasing number of people that we pass in Newcastle’s city centre.  The audience will leave with an impression even though the show just lays out a scenario – without any preaching.

So, back to Dave dancing in the park…

Suddenly he gets a text message. His daughter wants to let him know that Dave’s 6 year old grandson would like to meet him at Christmas. But the visit is on one condition. He must be sober. For Dave, suffering from the cold nights without any company, this is going to be the biggest challenge that he has faced up to in along time.

In the hour long show we witness entrepreneurial spirit. We witness hope. We witness optimism. But crushing that spirit are the reactions of the public, and in particular, certain authority figures. This is one of those emotional rollercoasters.

Having said that, the show works because Malcolm presents a character who you immediately care about, someone who you want to succeed in his quest. It is so important for the empathy to factor in for the show to work. Perhaps it is that dancing at the beginning which breaks down the barriers so quickly?

The music works a treat. We’ve been going to Alphabetti for a long time and it is only in the relatively recent times that live music – musicals – have been a feature of some shows. It does work – it does add a vibrancy to the performance.

This is a pay what you feel show – which ties in nicely with the themes that are presented. Those who can afford / want to pay more can do, whilst those who cannot afford regular theatre can still attend and enjoy the show. Though on busy nights like tonight, they could do with another pay point as you leave (or bring back the big pot for the cash envelopes as the card reader is surrounded with a big queue of people willing to pay by card).

Sharp writing, considerate direction and animated musicians playing live all help create a graphic performance. It is Malcolm Shields, though, who makes this a vivid theatrical experience. Recommended.

Review : Stephen Oliver

Tickets:
Running time: approximately an hour, no interval
Age: 14+
Ticket Prices: Pay What You Feel

Alphabetti website: www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

NB: Relaxed performance: Thursday 19th Dec, 1pm


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