Groundlings provide sci-fi delight

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The Boy Who Loved Star Wars – Groundlings Theatre

Mrs Charles Dickens gave birth in the very room in which I sat last night. Not whilst I was there, mind.

In their charming Georgian building just north of Gunwharf Quays, the Groundlings Theatre company, spearheaded by Artistic Director Richard Stride, are staging a new play about an estranged boy who takes refuge in his love for Star Wars.

Eddie Manning does a terrific job as Luke, a young boy who, following the departure of his mother, has grown away from his troubled father (Richard Stride) and toward science fiction fantasy.

The story is certainly moving, Stride’s writing crisp and often funny, the acting pretty strong across the board (Mike Ballis’ and Harrison de Bathe make up the cast), and the puppetry (Ballis controls a garrulous badger/aardvark . . . not sure exactly what it is) is comic and well executed.

Even Manning’s understudy was a delight – young Richard Lane taking time out to debrief me in the bar after the show.

Groundlings offer a busy and diverse programme of entertainment throughout the year; and with cinema screenings, workshops, live comedy, musicals, new writing and classics all on the menu, it’s only common sense to pay the company’s delightful new home a visit.

Ben Aitken