#Tweetingit – 3*** Man in a bath contemplating his navel, self-deluded and fighting his inner demons? An interesting and occasionally gripping monologue.
Pub theatres can offer something close to an ideal night out, beer and a burger downstairs and slice of culture upstairs. This was definitely the right time to visit the Bread and Roses, a smart welcoming pub in deepest Clapham; a beer garden front and back with a platform for live bands; it looks bright and shiny after a recent refurb. I made my way upstairs and entered what I assumed was the performance area; but found a man in the bath surrounded by soft lighting?! Oops, had I disturbed a private moment? No, it was Nathaniel Fairnington, star of the show getting into character as Rory. Reassuringly, others following me did the same backwards glance which said ‘am I in the right room?’ We settled into a tight performance area, which was barely big enough to accommodate a bath, wash basin and toilet. It certainly added to the claustrophobic feel, as this intense, 50 minute monologue began to unfold. Rory relates his deepest thoughts as we learn of his frantic, chaotic existence. He looks back on the emotional wreckage of previous relationships. His encounter with Emma might prove to be his undoing, was she sixteen or really fourteen? Could Soph have been the true love of his life after all; and is friend Paul more of a hindrance than a help, as he tries to make sense of his existence?
Rory’s machinations are laid bare as he wrestles with the consequences of his actions. He regularly runs to the toilet to be sick, seemingly repulsed by a life that has produced nothing but angst and self-loathing. Only twenty five years old, but wearily surveying his life as a seventy year old might. Should his relationship with Emma be the trigger to end it all, or the benchmark to make a better life? Squirm asks many questions but asks the audience to answer them. Nathaniel Fairnington is very good and tells Rory’s story with confidence and conviction. He makes light work of a bleak, depressed character and never fails to hold the attention. A man contemplating life and death may well be rambling and incoherent, but we only get extracts of Rory’s thoughts which can be frustrating. It left me shrugging my shoulders thinking there should be something else. As the performance concluded, the first word that entered my head was ‘and….?’ It just seemed to lack a genuine punchline. The play is nevertheless solidly written and well-acted. It’s a thought provoking piece, showing how self-analysis can lead to destruction.
Author: Serafina Cusack
Director: Oliver Yellop
Producer: Jess Bernberg/Appetite Theatre
Composer: Rachel Kerry
Graphic Imagery: Rosie Crawley
Booking Link: http://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/squirm.html
Box Office: 020 8050 3025
Booking until: 22 May 2016, then Edinburgh Fringe from 3-13 August 2016
Review: Brian Penn