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Sam. The Good Person at The Bunker Theatre | Review

Sam. The Good Person
Sam. The Good Person

As you enter the auditorium at The Bunker, there are 15 or so chairs arranged in a circle in the middle of the floor. Those who entered first (which included me and my companion) are encouraged to sit on those seats and anyone looking a bit reluctant is told it’s not interactive, so it’s safe to sit there! Apart from the chairs, it’s a simple set of a table on which is a kettle, tea making paraphernalia and a packet of biscuits. When everyone is seated, Declan Perring who plays Sam, sprints into the centre of the space in a burst of kinetic energy that has enough force to power the four fluorescent lights above his head.

Sam then addresses the people sitting on the circle of chairs for we are participants at what could be an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or in group therapy; it may not be interactive but there is interaction as Sam looks us squarely in the eye as he talks to us. There’s some amusing business making a cup of tea before Sam starts to tell his amazing life story where along the way we meet him at various stages of his life, his parents, his grandmother, his schoolteacher, various girlfriends and a deranged stalker – all played by Perring for Sam. The Good Person is a one-man show although at times it feels like there are others on stage with him.

Sam as the title of the play states, wants to be a good person but his insecurities and self-doubt lead him into all sorts of situations, especially as he’s a compulsive liar who just can’t help himself – as he says in the piece, “If no-one knows it’s a lie – is it really a lie?”.

This is a rollercoaster of a journey as the story rebounds like a hyperactive Superball from comedy to tragedy to pathos and back again leaving the audience exhausted and emotionally drained. Perring’s accents and voices are spot on and his engaging manner leads the audience into a false sense of security as he spins his spider’s web of a tale until the story takes a very dark turn and we’re jolted out our seats by Perring’s use of physicality that must leave the actor bruised and battered at the end of each performance.

Sam. The Good Person is a wonderful piece of theatre and everyone involved should be very proud of what they’ve achieved. Stephanie Withers’ direction is perfect giving the piece lots of light and shade. Also, special mention must go to Lighting Designer Will Adler and Sound Designer Nick Clinch both of whom add layered nuances of light and sound to the production giving it extra dimensions and depth.

However, Perring is the real star of the play which he also wrote. He’s funny and pathetic and dark – often in the same sentence and whilst his character should be seen as unlikeable as his lies bring chaos and tragedy to the people around him, Perring’s performance surmounts those traits and make us empathise with him – maybe there’s a little bit of all us in Sam the fantasist. Tour de force is a much-overused phrase but well deserved here.

The shame is that Sam. The Good Person is only on at The Bunker for less than a week so not that many people will get the chance to see it and it definitely deserves to be seen by a much bigger audience and to get the chance to be nominated for all the awards going.

Sam. The Good Person is “Billy Liar” on steroids and although billed as a black comedy, it’s a lot more than that. Sam might not be a good person but this is a good (no, great) piece of theatre – go and see it if you can but hurry as it’s only on for a few more days.

5 Star Rating

Review by Alan Fitter

Sam is a good person.
But what makes someone a good person?
How far would you go to convince others you are?

When your mind can’t differentiate between the truth and a lie, facts becomes irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the story you are telling.
Whatever the cost.

Sam. The Good Person is a startling black comedy that examines just how easy it is for a lie to spiral out of control and change your life forever.

Written and Performed by Declan Perring
Director Stephanie Withers
Assistant Director Euan Tyre & Matthew Seager
Lighting Designer Will Alder
Sound Designer Nick Clinch
Video Joe Potter
Graphic Designer Jordan Dawes
Producer Off the Middle

Sam. The Good Person.
by Declan Perring
Directed by Stephanie Withers

Tuesday 15th – Saturday 19th January 2019
https://www.bunkertheatre.com

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