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Cameron Scheijde gets cosy with Bristol Playwrights’ Collective at The Room Above for the third installment of their New Writing Festival.

The best theatre weaves its way into your heart, attaching you to the characters and drawing you into the story. It makes you want to know more, raises serious questions about how you respond to the action on-stage and leaves you with a new perspective.

The third of three events put on by BPC

Charming, funny and dark in equal measure… plenty to think about.

The third and final instalment of the New Writing Festival does just that; with two jaw-droppingly stunning pieces of new writing by Ali Mills and Ed Lees. Mills’ creation Diary opens the evening; a tale of Mel, a girl who retreats into her writings for solace and comfort. Charming, funny and dark in equal measure, this piece leaves me with plenty to think about.

The Room Above is transformed from its usual end-on configuration to a traverse set up, which works perfectly in the space and was an ingenious way of connecting the audience with the action. Linked with this is the simple use of set for Diary, lamps scatter the floor that are slowly turned on by the narrator. A powerful piece of imagery that stays with me throughout the show.

Diary

This piece, however, is one of the protagonist; and Flavia Chessman puts in one of the most assured performances I have seen on the Bristol theatre scene. The character is instantly relatable and funny, we look into the mind of a young girl, unsure of her surroundings and intimidated by the world around her: ‘I don’t like people’.

I am not often one to openly exclaim during a show; but the [show] makes me do just that.

However, it is the second piece of the night, Lees’ Into the Deep, that leaves me with a profound sense of appreciation for the sheer breadth of talent available to budding directors, actors, and writers in Bristol. This piece works its way into your heart with some beautiful performances, destroys everything around it in the process.

A tale of a fishing family held back by poverty and inter-generational struggle, Lees’ writing is stunning, and backed up by some magnificent performances on stage. Perhaps most notable is Ben Gosling’s troubled Thomas Lewin, whose character is so well established that every move he makes frames his struggle in a new light, none more so than with his death at sea and the stunning twist at the end.

powerful, emotional, and hard to watch … theatre at its best

I am not often one to openly exclaim during a show; but the revelation that he is indebted in poverty, about to lose a home, and unable to provide for his family due to supporting his abusive father, makes me do just that. The inter-generational strife of the 3 generations portrayed is phenomenal.

a stunning festival of talent leaves nothing to be desired

Carlos Sandin makes an archetypal abusive father, beating his son as he did his wife. Angus Roughley’s Marlon, the grandson, is accomplished. Polly Wain’s struggling Carla is played with intensity and courage. The fights between them all are powerful, emotional, and hard to watch, but they represent theatre at its best.

Overall this concluding chapter of what has been a stunning festival of talent leaves nothing to be desired. The writing is superb, the acting sublime, and the quality of professionalism excellent. This proves testament to the quality of theatre that Bristol can produce and leaves me with questions and a new perspective. It has worked its way into my heart, and ripped it to pieces.

★★★★★

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