Reviews

  1. Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn and Knuckleball

    Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn by Graham Farrow & Knuckleball by William Whitehurst

    Second Skin Theatre
    Rosemary Branch Theatre

    Review by Howard Loxton (2010)

    These two plays, linked by themes that explore attitudes to sexuality, violence and secret lives, pack a substantial punch. Drawing room comedy they are not and, in the close proximity of this always interesting tiny theatre, director Andy McQuade and his splendid casts make them almost too real. Come the interval, you’ll probably need that drink and be glad to get downstairs to the warm and welcoming pub, but if you like real theatre and not just saccharine entertainment this is a double bill that gives full value

    In Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn a young lad who’s not too bright seeks refuge from a stepfather who beats him and a drunkard mother in the house of a man who he’s seen in the park feeding ducks and heard people say ‘likes boys.’ I read Matthew Haigh’s performance of Nick as being a child, much younger than the actor, pre-adolescent, but he could be in his teens, retarded and still sexually innocent. Radford, the householder comes home with a bloody nose. He’s been set upon by men who think him a paedophile and to make things worse two local boys have gone missing. Finding Nick there is a shock, it could put him in real danger, but he handles the boy gently, coaxing him to leave but while the child is still in the house his knife-wielding stepfather breaks in.

    The violent confrontation between Peter Glover’s seemingly gentle Radford and the sinewy Lewis of David Swain has our sympathy shifting surprisingly back and forth between them. Is Radford a man mourning a wife and children run down by a rogue motorist? Is Lewis a repressed homosexual? Which man is the monster?

    The situation escalates in horror adding extra layers of meaning and concludes with an ambiguous image that suggests a continuing cycle of violence and serial killing. Gruelling but gripping.

    Until 7th February 2010

    Howard Loxton for British Theate Guide on Wednesday 27 January 2010

  2. Stay With Me Till Dawn – 5 stars

    The wind howled through the dark cavernous set of the Rosemary Branch theatre as Nick, a young boy played by Matthew Haigh sneaks into a house. A creeping dread like the beginning of a ghost story assaults the audience before Redford played by the superb Peter Glover returns home to find the boy in this house. The set is defined with minimal ease, a sofa and chair, a table, a curtain hangs but no window exists behind it on the enclosing black walls.

    Nick has fled his home and taken refuge in a place he never would if he had lost his innocence, in the house of John Redford, a man who is known for ‘liking boys’ and naively thinks he might like and help him. Before long Redford has his house broken into again, but this time by the boy’s father Lewis, played by David Swain who enraged, brings with him a knife. The two men physically and mentally wrestle with one another over who is the ‘bad man’ and who the hero, violently building to a conclusion that will stay with the audience long after the show stops. The strength of the Peter Glover conjuring the complex Redford so that the audience is genuinely disturbed is the play’s main strength. David Swain as Lewis handles the changing balance of power well and Matthew Haigh brings humanity to Nick as a child, despite being older than the part. Aside from one incongruous brief monologue to audience about death the play is compelling, disturbing and powerful.

    Peter Carrington for remotegoat on Friday 25 January 2010

  3. Stay With Me Till Dawn

    A disturbing and intense play – played out with skill and superb timing from all three cast members. A confused young boy , his irate father and an older man who “likes boys” meet in a tiny cramped flat with no escape. Is the boy hiding from his Dad? Is the man really someone to be worried about? Is the angry Dad as straight as he makes out? All of these questions are thrown up into the air and answered with guts and gore. Loads of blood and very effective fight sequences took us all by surprise and the stunned silence before appreciative applause summed up the atmosphere – both tense and frightening. Full marks to Peter Glover as the Man, David Swain as the Dad as Mathew Haigh as Nick the Son.

    Philip Herbert for Remotegoat, Wednesday 21st Jan 2010

  4. “It’s shocking – but stunning”

    Shopping and Fucking (2007)

    It’s not my cup of tea. A couple of homosexual kisses precede a sex scene which in turn leads on to a vile follow-up involving a knife. The title, calculated to shock, fades into insignificance once we meet the five strong but pitiable characters in Mark Ravenhill’s story. Robert Ball’s studio production, though freely sprinkled with four-letter words and not really qualifying to come under the heading of entertainment, is superb. The action, the shocks, the oafish despair are accorded top-class treatment.

    Ben Day, as the lad who has run away from home after being abused; David Swain, as the man on the mend from drugs but facing relationship challenges; Andrew Lowrie, as the hard-nosed drug dealer and Ben Vickery and Danielle Spittle as the tough couple with their own method of making a living – they all come through with aplomb. Approach with caution. It runs until Saturday.

    John Slim, Birmingham Mail, Wednesday 7 March 2007

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