Thursday, September 28

Puppets – Paradise in the Vault

Two estranged brothers, Conny (Freddie Mitchell) and Lonny (Alex Davies), are thrown together in the basement of Lonny’s pub.  We watch as they get to know each other again, fighting, sharing, and grieving together as only siblings can.

One minute, the brothers fly at each other in a rage, hurling words like weapons. This alternates with expressions of tenderness and compassion. The dynamic between the two actors is a marvel to behold, and I wonder if they are brothers, or at least lifelong friends in real life.  They listen and react to each other beautifully. This is a masterclass in actor chemistry, and I strongly recommend that every actor goes to see this production.

The script, by writer/director Barney Watts, is breath taking.  Every word has power, and the rhythm and pacing of the piece, and the precision of the performances, is flawless. If this were a film, I would congratulate the editing team.  The team of four, completed by assistant director / producer Honor Calvert, must have built a great rapport in order to achieve this dynamic in a live performance piece.

The beautiful but claustrophobic Annexe at Paradise in the Vault, with its whitewashed stonework and arched alcoves, amplifies the intensity of the performances.  A few kegs and bottles, and a couple of chairs, are enough to complete the pub basement setting. I would love to see a film version of this production, made in the very same space.

If I was being picky, I would mention that some of the scene changes, which are timed to include background music, might be quicker.  However, the purpose of the music choice becomes apparent later in the piece.

Pitch Productions is a Durham-based company that supports student and emerging theatre makers. Based on this production, they are doing a marvellous job. This is an excellent piece of theatre, and it is refreshing to see a story about working class people at the increasingly gentrified Fringe. I eagerly anticipate the next projects from all members of the team.

Reviewer: Wendy McEwan

Reviewed: 16th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.