Lit Live @ Alma Tavern ★★★


By Katie Chalk, First Year English & History

Falstaff Theatre’s annual Lit Live performance was a delightful example of fun, friendly and accessible student led theatre and, although maybe a little rough around the edges, certainly provided a relaxed and varied evening of entertainment by the Falstaff Society.

With the charming Alma Tavern Theatre providing the perfect informal and cosy backdrop, audience members were treated to a succession of six short original performances; written, directed and performed by students, inspired by literary works. This clever concept allowed for refreshing variation between light-hearted comedy and more serious, thought-provoking adaptations.

Lit Live / Laura Graham and Daisy King

The first act was a whirlwind of contrasts beginning with Patrick Sullivan’s ‘Great Poets Die in Steaming Pots of Shit’, which was a comic piece, much as the title suggests, providing an insight into the mind of a miserable and hungover Charles Bukowski - played by Jasper Price - as he is harassed by an eager fan (played by Siavash Minoukadeh). This was followed by Joe Davidson and Hazel Lee’s melancholy adaptation of ‘The Long Rain’, with Charlotte Fairman and Maisie Hare providing believably miserable performances.

Next came Joseph Dale and Tom Younger’s unapologetically - and self-admittedly ‘cheap’ - satirical adaptation of ‘The Dream of the Rood’. Audience members were left sniggering at the blasphemous, pantomime-like interplay between Jesus - played by Ross Edwards - and the carpenter making his cross, Natalie Quinn.

Lit Live / Patrick Sullivan

The first act closed with Price’s return to the stage for a haunting monologue inspired by Porpyria’s Lover, which may not quite have captured the grotesque eroticism of Browning’s poem, but it was certainly a convincing and distressing performance of a crazed murderer.

It was refreshing to see the passion and enthusiasm of students creating theatre on their own terms

Lit Live / Ayo Okojie

After a hilarious opening of satirical poetry lamenting the realities of student living, the second act continued with the theme of Bristol uni.  Siavash Minoukadeh and Sonal Mistry‘s adaptation of ‘Conversations with Friends’, now renamed ‘Conversations with Enemies’, presented Bristol student stereotypes, wittily embodied by actors Cameron Macgregor and Eve Miller, whilst cleverly questioning ideas of class and relationships.

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Lit Live cast of 2019 / Sonal Mistry 

The highlight of the show for me, however, was not until the final performance, ‘Maya says’, written and directed by Ife Grillo. This was a powerful thought-provoking interrogation of the nature and struggles of love. India Wilson and Ayo Okojie gave particularly strong performances utilizing emotive and confident confessional soliloquies and demonstrating impressive stage presence.

As a fresher having never experienced any of Bristol's student-led theatre before, I thoroughly enjoyed the informal atmosphere created by the friendly, welcoming members of the Falstaff Society and the obvious closeness of the company. It may not have been a hugely polished or theatrically remarkable performance, but that only added to its charm!  It was refreshing to see the passion and enthusiasm of students creating theatre on their own terms and for their own enjoyment.


Featured image credit: Siavash Minoukadeh

Did you see Lit Live? What did you think of the show?