Sunday, May 19

Stitches – The Hope Theatre

My 19-year-old son has a teddy, or should I say a rag that used to be a teddy; I also had a favourite teddy (shh, I’ve still got him in a drawer at home), and for most of us, it is the first possession that we learn to care for.  Stitches, turns the story around, and the teddy becomes the narrator/obsessive observer of Chloe the baby, Teddy’s baby, and the story is born at Chloe’s birth.  Teddy was bought as a present for Chloe, and Teddy has rejection anxiety – will Chloe want me?  Am I cute enough?  He needn’t have worried, Chloe immediately cuddles him and squeezes his ear – the beginning of a life journey together!

Written and performed by Jonathan Blakeley, this play is an exploration of commitment, to love someone through the good times and the bad.  It’s a one-man show with Blakeley taking centre stage as Teddy, but taking on all other characters to provide the narrative.  The story follows the timeline of Chloe’s life, as she navigates childhood, teenage years, and advances into adulthood, and includes the challenges of friendship, love and relationships, and everything else that life has to throw at her.  Teddy, doesn’t mind speaking his mind, he’s a feisty teddy with opinions and a strong sense of protecting Chloe…Teddy’s keeping her safe! 

This unusual and hugely watchable play is never dull, the audience are drawn into the character’s life via the eyes of her teddy, and we are invited to witness Chloe’s ups and downs at close quarters.  Blakeley is energetic and charismatic, and endows Teddy with a sense of fun, which helps to lift the mood in some of the darker moments.  With a video screen behind, this addition helps to support the live material and adds another dimension for the viewer to look at.  The Hope’s space is small, but set designer Constance Villemot makes the best use of it, and director Samantha Pears, and movement director Charlotte Taylor, help to add depth and fluidity to Blakeley’s performance. 

I won’t spoil the ending, but it is very touching to see that this play was developed in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre.  Having nurtured this play since 2018, I think writer Jonathan Blakeley deserves congratulations.  Supported by producer Sarah Lawrie, this play is highly watchable, and it also offers the opportunity to visit one of London’s gems in the fringe theatre crown, The Hope Theatre…whilst you still can!

To book to see Stitches go to https://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/stitches/  The play runs until the 9th March 2024.  Please take notice of the age restriction of age 18+.

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 22nd February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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