Friday, 23 October 2015

Review: The Rooms at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

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The Rooms
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Until Saturday 31st October 2015

The Alphabetti Theatre is a real hidden gem in the centre of Newcastle. The Rooms are 3 short plays that take full advantage of the unique space that exists underneath New Bridge Street.

Three talented young actresses are able to hold the audience in their grasp. The strong scripts often provide more questions than answers.  The loose ends suggest a greater depth to the subject matter.

The audience is divided up into three groups, each group enjoying the 3 shows in a different order.

First up tonight was Dreaming Is Free by Michael Brown. As you enter Jessica Johnson is lying on her single bed.  She has woken up in a room but isn’t entirely sure how she ended up there.

As with all 3 productions, the audience is stood up around the space as the performance unfolds. Jessica springs from her bed and draws the audience into her performance. As she stands up, and stares you in the face, you will become drawn into the performance. Under Matt Jamie’s direction this is not a passive form of theatre.

The monologue suggests a captive girl who dreams on seeing the outside world. The person that she describes as a “kind friend” is probably far from it. There are many questions that are left unanswered as you leave and that is perhaps what makes it such a powerful realization.

After a short interval the group were escorted into another room to see Paper Walls by Nina Berry. A number of comments about The Rooms on Twitter refer to the intense experience. Indeed as Arabella Arnott rips the paper off the walls whilst looking for something one is drawn into a personal hell. A lady undergoing intensive treatment, a baby that is missing and a partner that has kept her in this place. Powerful and, indeed, it is very intense. Lee Rosher has directed a profound and passionate experience.

The third show had a change in pace. As Rosie Stancliffe led the group through the corridors at the rear of the venue it is clear that this is not going to be a conventional show.  

Meat Factory by David Raynor looks at meat production and convenience foods such as chicken nuggets. Rosie is Shirley Dobson OBE, one of the North East’s leading business women. Not shy to brag about her achievements she is looking for investment to increase production.
Rosie’s performance is as funny as it is shocking. As she stares maniacally into your eyes and offers you the food products you know something is not quite right. Director Ali Pritchard has created the most interactive of the three shows.

The three actresses were simply stunning. Jessica Johnson, Arabella Arnott and Rosie Stancliffe are both believable and captivating. The audience is very close up to the action, sometimes painfully so. The tickets are limited and already audiences are booking return visits with new groups to share an experience like no other in town. 

The Rooms are three experiences that are well worth seeking out.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

The Rooms: Video Trailer -

Performance Details
Bar Opens
6.30pm. Performance starts 7.30pm

Alphabetti Theatre, The Basement 18 Newbridge Street West Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AW

Ticket Price:
£8 / £6

Running Length:
Approx. 1 Hour 15 minutes (including 3 x 15 minute intervals)

Capacity is limited –booking is essential.
Please be advised that this a promenade production, where audiences will be watching the show on their feet.

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