Review: Bottleneck and Spine at the Harlow Playhouse

Harlow Playhouse / Wed 22nd Feb 2017 at 10:26am


THIS reporter has been deeply impressed by the standard of theatre presented as part of the Pay What You Can Series but last night’s two one-person plays took the standards to a whole new level.

We started with Bottleneck. A play written by Luke Barnes and performed by Harlow actor Ben Parsley. Ben’s performance is a tour-de-force. This was real physical theatre. Yes, he is playing a gobby fourteen-year-old Liverpudlian with killer lines but it is all in the verbal and physical delivery.

It is like following a verbal ballet. Not a movement is wasted as Ben dominates the stage. His use of his own body, his delivery of the words, his ability to play other characters, to change his shape, are all testament to this wonderful performance. This reporter even thinks he made himself sweat in a key scene.

It is no wonder that he got a standing ovation at the end. It was so well deserved.

The second performance was Spine This charts the explosive relationship between a fiery but deeply insecure teenager and an elderly widow.
Harlow actress, Kirsty Brough played the part (s) with defiance, with grace, deserving of our laughter, our fears and our respect.

Kirstie, like Ben, used every verbal and non-verbal device to heighten her performance. The change in stature, the placing of a hood, the use of a solitary chair.

This was challenging, assertive theatre and Kirstie pulled it off with triumphantly.

It is no wonder that both these plays are under the banner of Harlow Creates. Harlow should be proud of these two actors and the team behind the performances. We must have more showcases for our Harlow actors. We would love to see both plays on the road (Edinburgh Fringe?)

The shows run until Thursday.
Check Harlow Playhouse for availability.

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