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The White Heart Inn at Bridge House Theatre

Bridge House Theatre is a comfortable, welcoming pub theatre, thirty seconds from Penge West railway station and serving excellent food, even if there are no real ales! The theatre has recently reopened after Covid, seating about 50 on comfortable seats. One of its earliest visiting productions comes from three amateur groups in Bristol who have combined to stage The White Heart Inn.

The White Heart Inn at Bridge House TheatreFive guests arrive at a seventeenth-century inn in Cornwall on the wettest, windiest night for years, owned by the eccentrically religious Bethel, played by Mathilda Dickinson and brother Hector by Russell Eccleston attempting to get menace into the role by being physically slow.

The director’s introduction calls the 135-minute play a ‘horror-comedy’ when in fact there is little comedy in evidence, but, especially in Act Two, a great deal of serious violence, staged by Russell Eccleston.

The White Heart Inn has the feel of a piece that has been devised during rehearsals by the company, though three writers are listed: Russell Eccleston, Tiffany Rhodes and C J Turner-McMullan. The script would benefit from some tightening up but is, at times, quite effective.

Tiffany Rhodes is Kate, who has come to the inn to search for ghosts. She is very competent and the play lifts whenever she is on stage as she has the energy needed to drive the piece along. She also uses her physicality well, especially with regard to facial expression and reacting to what is happening around her.

Her friend and partner, Lily, clearly not as much of a ghost hunter, is played by Alicia Pollard.

Otis (Saili Katebe) and Melissa (C J Turner-McMullan), have arrived at the inn to explore and relax, whilst Axel (Stan Elliott), is just there to escape from being best man at a wedding!

Emily Malloy’s direction is inclined to let the play and actors relax too much when a climax is building and cues were inclined to be slow, but doubtless, this will quickly improve as the run progresses.

It rains hard outside the inn throughout the play – Sound Design is by Finn MacNeil, while Esther Warren is responsible for the very moody lighting design.

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

The White Heart Inn follows five guests who arrive at the inn, each with a different expectation. To sleep, to explore, to hunt for ghosts. Things take a turn when they learn about the violent past of the very grounds they are staying on. The eccentric owners of the inn, Bethel and Hector, seem obsessed by the marshes next door. Local pride? Or a connection to something more sinister?

Directed by Emily Malloy
Fight Direction by Russell Eccleston & Tiffany Rhodes
Written by Tiffany Rhodes, CJ Turner-McMullan & Russell Eccleston
Sound Design & Composition by Finn MacNeil
Lighting Design by Esther Warren
Performed by Saili Katebe, Stan Elliott, Matilda Dickinson, Alicia Pollard, Tiffany Rhodes, CJ Turner-McMullan & Russell Eccleston

Apricity Theatre, Black Dog Productions & Dumb Blonde Theatre present
The White Heart Inn
at The Bridge House Theatre
Sun 31st October – Fri 5th November 2021
https://apricitytheatre.com/

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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