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'100 Seconds to Midnight' @ The Alma ★ ★ ★★ ★

Epigram reviews Bristol Spotlights' latest production, '100 Seconds to Midnight'

By Joseph Marshall, Deputy Editor

The programme for Bristol Spotlights’ most recent production, ‘100 Seconds to Midnight’, tells us that the writers - both first year students – began writing ‘in a garden shed in Dublin accompanied by lots of tea and toast.’ Whatever its humble beginnings, the audience’s standing ovation at the show’s close was one that was fully merited in this ambitious and well executed piece of theatre.

The play tells the story of May and John, a duo who haven’t seen each other since their break up five years ago, as they come to terms with what might be the end of the world. The play begins five weeks after May calls John, believing that the apocalypse was to happen the next day, only to discover that the world is still turning, and that they are now confined to his apartment for the foreseeable future.

We’re introduced to the characters on lighter terms, the leads played by Kitty Daniels and Andrew Graham, joke about their 6pm breakfast of marmite on crackers and John’s unusual marine-based kinks.

As the play goes on themes of mental health, abortion and suicide are tackled. Although such themes are common terrain for student theatre, under the desperate conditions of an imminent end-of-the-world scenario a new light is shed on them, and they are explored well for the most part in the writing and by the actors.

The benefit of having just two people in a cast was evident here, with both actors fully considering their characters and motivations, alternating convincingly between cheekiness and intensity where required. The likeability of the actors and the strength of the writing brought the audience on board, whether it was sympathising with John in his efforts to cheer up May in their situation, or relating to May’s confusion over her true feelings towards John.

The chemistry between the actors was evident and a testament to the rehearsal process under the writer-directors Rosalie Roger-Lacan and Amber Conroy.

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There were occasional issues in the tone of the writing, particularly on the more sensitive issues which left the audience a little unsure how to react.

However, its rawness was equally a strength for the most part, with the audience laughing and crying with the characters as the play progressed. The play felt apt in the intimate space of Alma Theatre with an audience of just 50, and the minimal set allowed the focus to be on the two characters and their development.

With a cohesive effort between the actors, direction and production, ‘100 Seconds to Midnight’ rates among the strongest productions by Spotlights in recent years.

Featured Image: Henry Cunningham | The Alma Tavern and Theatre | Bristol Spotlights

Have you checked out any of Bristol's student theatre productions this term?