Theatre N16, at the Bedford Pub in Balham, is quickly becoming a hub of exciting new work, inviting emerging companies to cut their teeth and try out new material in its intimate black box theatre space. Free Rayne Artists did just that with Spiral. This one-off performance introduced seven 10-15 minute pieces of new writing, showcasing the work of a variety of actors, directors and writers.
The audience themselves were treated to a real variety of stories, ranging from the streets of New York, a teenager’s bedroom, an inner city school room, and a train station. The plays were by turns funny and poignant, chosen to give a glimpse into the characters’ worlds, providing snapshots of a moment in time.
My favourite piece closed the show; Double Bubble by Nicholas Ridley (definitely a writer to watch) was hilarious, performed with skill by Bethany Springall and Megan Pemberton, and carefully directed by Jordan Murphy to observe the subtle and intricate minefield that competitive women must often navigate.
Other stand-out performances came from Emily Stott in Chrissy Jamison-Jones’ Thirteen, about underage sex; Kirsty Cherrett in That Joke by Matthew Wilkie, which depicted a crazed fan who bumps into her favourite comedian at a train station; and Miles Parker in Chris Thurmott’s Termination, which cleverly used corporate talk to reveal the effects of capitalism on those that (used to) work on Wall Street. All actors however were adept at immersing themselves in the relationships within the scenes, resulting in engaging performances all round.
Interesting to note, however – and this is perhaps indicative of the state of new writing today – the female-centric pieces told stories that generally revolved around unseen men, and the impact of these men in their lives. The male-centric piece Termination, however, did not mention women once. Although all stories were enjoyable, it is somewhat frustrating that much new writing still tends to shy away from challenging and pushing boundaries. The evening certainly would not have passed the Bechdel test – but then, I don’t think Free Rayne Artists set out to, and it was lovely to see so many female writers, directors and actors take to the stage in what is currently such a peculiarly male-dominated world.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, Free Rayne Artists are certainly a company to follow closely, and if they are keen to showcase bolder, more ground-breaking, stereotype-busting work, that can only be a good thing, given the quality of work already being produced.
Review by Amy Stow
FREE RAYNE ARTISTS
Friday 13th May at Theatre N16
Written and Directed by: Olivia Collinge Gawn.
Starring: Rebecca Rayne and Rebecca Finch.
Written by: Matthew Wilkie
Directed by: Kevin Russell
Starring: Kirsty Cherrett and Marc Dehaney
Written by: Teresa Burns
Directed by: Ellie Gauge
Starring: Tanya Truman and Leanne Pettit
Written by: Eva Edo
Directed by: Susan Raasay
Starring: Layo-Christina Akinlude and Emily Thornton
Written by: Nicolas Ridley
Directed by: Jordan Murphy
Starring: Bethany Springall and Megan Pemberton
Written by: Chris Thurmott
Directed by: Jessica Lazar
Starring: Jamie Rowlands, Miles Parker, Kwame Bentil and Malcolm Jeffries
Written by: Chrissy Jamieson-Jones
Directed by: Dominic Cooper
Starring: Rosie Akerman, Emily Stott and Annabelle Green
The next night of Spiral will be at The Bread and Roses Theatre on October 16th, 17th and 18th. They will be looking for new short plays, actors and directors.
Please visit website for details www.freerayneartists.com