What I’ve always loved about The Bench, out of the myriad local theatre companies we have access to, is their willingness to encourage creativity.
This week they are presenting four one-act plays, written and directed by their own Mark Wakeman. The plays – 36 Candles, Your Forever, First and Last and Red Rockett (written with Mike Hickman) – demonstrate Wakeman’s love (and mastery) of language as well as his eye for detail and situation.
36 Candles is a study of friendship, ageing and our universal fear of romantic rejection and has an astonishingly well-crafted performance from Angie McKeown as Lizzie.
Your Forever ostensibly presents the story of a romantic break-up. Again, while the twist-in-the-tale is nothing new, Wakeman’s script and two cracking performances from Dan Finch and Beth Evans made this the highlight of the evening for me.
First and Last is the most thoughtful of the pieces on offer and although the painful conclusion becomes obvious to the audience, it is still satisfying.
The last of the plays – Red Rockett – could do with some judicious trimming and tightening up. The principal situation is not new and the script adds nothing fresh to it and it did end by feeling a little laboured.
It’s a great evening overall – and The Bench deserve support for staging it.