Theatre West

reviews

2012

Sleep Lane

The star of the evening is Hennessy’s script which deals with economic crisis, philosophical thought and mythology in one very easy to digest, entertaining and thoughtful hour.
What's On Stage ****

Hennessy does succeed, completely, in turning a blameless suburban street into some darkly fascinating netherworld where anything might be impossible.
Bristol Evening Post

Rush

Rush is a play of surprises and Lane’s imaginative script is filled with flights of fancy; the after-life, body swaps, a merman and a devilish pact. It is really refreshing to see a writer take a risk with his subject matter in such an intimate space.
What's On Stage ****

Hennessy does succeed, completely, in turning a blameless suburban street into some darkly fascinating netherworld where anything might be impossible.
Remote Goat

Honest

Honest takes a hard but always engaging look at the difficulties of being young and how discovering the truth can often be a painful process....

Nicholas’ script effectively shows us the insecurities and cruelty of adolescent relationships with some sharp and believable dialogue

What's On Stage ****

Cake

... a brilliantly scripted, surreal comedy that in some respects, rivals “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?” although Ledbury’s is a lighter-hearted look into marital descent...
Remote Goat ****

Cake proves to be a real treat. The laughs are consistent. They come from dark places, absurd places or just from the odd throwaway line ... Entertaining, snappy and entirely for the audience. Highly recommended
What's On Stage *****

Items of Value

... Mitchell’s inventiveness gathers pace, her language bursting forth in evermore amusing, engaging ideas...
Remote Goat ****

The sharp script deals with its subject matter through three brilliantly crafted characters with real energy and warmth - helped enormously by fabulous performances from the actors involved.
What's On Stage *****

2011

The Darkroom

An atmospheric, well-performed play ... steeps us in the doubts, fears, desires and moral quandaries of the strange, fearful yet promising postwar era.
Venue ***

beautifully written play is thoughtful, engaging and pacy enough easily to fill a longer run here or, in fact, anywhere.
What's On Stage ****

Dorian’s Second Life

the level of depth achieved in less than an hour is truly admirable: you are unlikely to find as much unfussy intensity per minute anywhere else in Bristol.
A Younger Theatre website

The play grips you ... your trepidation builds until your heart is in your mouth ... it is a skilled character sketch that leaves you asking how far would you go?
Guide to Bristol website

Raising Kamila

Ibsen-esque .. a psychological striptease.
Venue

I Remember Green

With director Andy Burden, Lister and the cast have spun a sensitive, funny and delicate web... It is a fine ensemble.
What's On Stage

among the best new work I have seen in some time, well performed by all three actors, powerful, moving and deeply human.
Guide to Bristol website

Sitting With Thistle

..each element – writing, acting, directing, and production – combines to make an entertaining and thoroughly engaging night of theatre.
What's On Stage

2010

Children of Salt

Impeccably directed … finely portrayed with both subtlety and power. An absorbing and urgent start to Theatre West's 2010 season.
Venue Magazine ****

A Laughing Matter

From start to finish, it is a thoughtfully crafted and beautifully executed piece of theatre.
Venue Magazine ****

Pavement

… moving and, at moments, gasp-out-loud harrowing: it’s also, often, darkly funny… Responsibility, loss, recovery and forgiveness: ‘Pavement’ bites off some big fruit. That it also manages to be a dark, witty odd-trio comedy is impressive.
Venue Magazine ****

Venus at Broadmoor

… finds elegant ways of telling a complex story. Beautifully directed by Chris Loveless, with a simple, atmospheric set and a fine cast of three…
Venue Magazine ****

Rabbit Ears

full of shocks, surprises and secrets that it’s anything but predictable – although the fireworks never get in the way of genuine emotion… the play’s dramatic structure works a series of little miracles
Venue Magazine ****

2009

Nostalgia

We’re not at all sure what we’re watching but whatever it is, it’s terrific … a multi-layered commentary on British self-image … Director Anna Harpin tempers Jimmy Whiteaker’s satire with a moving slo-mo ballet involving the fourstrong cast … with enough energy to punch their way out of the Alma’s box-like space and onto a wider stage.
Venue Magazine ****

Showing the Monster

"Steve Lambert’s tart, atmospheric and very funny play … (is) a fascinating network of fear, risk, professional jealousy, intergenerational rivalry and latent sexuality … beautifully paced, with moments of quiet reflection and vulnerability amongst its more frequent bursts of Wildean wit. Brilliant."
Venue Magazine *****

After the Accident

"finely crafted … beautifully balanced and convincing … Theatre West’s strongest piece of the season."
Venue Magazine *****

"… one of the best pieces of new writing I’ve seen all year and a bright-shining highlight of Theatre West’s season at the Alma Tavern."
Sophia Lomax, Bristol247

Blavatsky’s Tower

Winner of Venue Magazine’s Top Banana Award for Best Production 2009

"splendidly weird … a winner"
Evening Post (8/10)

"beautifully paced … brilliantly interpreted … a privilege to watch"
Metro (5 stars)

"Under Alison Comley’s direction and on a beautifully austere, minimal set by Ann Stiddard, the cast of five render this bizarre hothouse of eccentricity beautifully. …the moment where Roland struggles with the parting from one of his siblings, to whom he’s been perhaps unhealthily close, is one of the most captivating moments I’ve had in the theatre this year. Gripping, dark, hilarious, nerveless and emotional; brilliantly staged and acted. Bravo."
Venue Magazine *****

2008

Bond Girls
'…highly enjoyable and neatly written…These were four actors on outstanding form giving it the full vodka Martini treatment.
Harry Mottram - Bristol Evening Post

'Massey's new script appears as quick, witty and smooth as any Fleming film, with the requisite doses of soluble cyanide and champagne.'
Nicky Yeeles - Venue

Shut Up
'Shiona Morton’s call and response dialogue … is like high speed Pinter: non-sequiturs, subtext, suggested menace'
Tom Phillips - Venue

'Morton’s script used repetition and unfinished sentences to good effect in a serious play that packed in a lot in 60 minutes'
Harry Mottram - Bristol Evening Post

Writing in the Margins
'This enthralling quartet of 15-minute vignettes rub up against each other with a marked contrast in styles. The genteel Bittern End is gloriously executed … Loose Connections [gives an] incisive take on mental decline … Karaoke for One is sparky … Alex Boyt's wildly engaging One More Trick peaks with a genuinely nerve-wracking climax'
Velimir Ilic - Metro

'Karaoke for One by Jimmy Whiteaker … [contains] rueful, poignant thoughts on loneliness, damage and the succour that humour can bring … Alex Boyt's One More Trick contained as much excitement, dark sensuality and twitching adrenaline as you could pack into 15 minutes … Dark, seedy, sexy and troubling: and a writer and performers to watch.'
Steve Wright - Venue

Cave
'Punchy satire and a sure touch make light work of Euripides' terrible plight … Cave, which benefits from Andy Burden's sensitive direction and some smart dialogue, is a marvel'
Sophie Lomax - Bristol Evening Post

This brave and considered production is as fresh and raunchy as a modern Greek drama can be - another stylish triumph for Theatre West.'
Nicola Yeeles - Venue

Metal Remains
'All the roles are performed with confidence and aplomb, leading to an entirely credible and tragic conclusion. For those of us, male or female, unlikely ever to experience life in a war zone, this is about as real as it gets.'
Mark Gartside - Venue

'It’s not Oh! What A Lovely War. But it's this very intensity that makes the stories such compulsive viewing. In particular, the director Alison Comley ensured the cast didn’t give the audience a moment to relax.'
Harry Mottram - Bristol Evening Post'

2006

The Inhabitants of the Moon are Noses
'The acting is first-rate, especially from Aukland, who plays the doomed visionary with a splendid lank-haired, pop-eyed intensity. Top marks to Gwynne too, who as his mother is gentle and overweening by turns – her face blessed with a preternatural serenity which can quickly flip into anger or buffoonery. … a hilarious, tight studio piece, imbued with plenty of Muscovite madcappery'
Tom Philips - Venue
The Keith Ashton Experience
'It'll probably infuriate you, make you laugh and set you a-thinkin' about social justice and other knotty issues in roughly equal parts. … Flawed in places but an absorbing evening of black humour, class angst and stage/reality slippage.'
Carol H Tent - Venue

'…a cringingly funny comedy … It would be hard to better Julia Gwynne's performance as the arty, has-bagged-her-man-primary school teacher … entirely believable. In a manic deconstruction of Keith's life and the lives of Jez and Lisa, the drama spirals towards a neat conclusion.'
Harry Mottram - Bristol Evening Post
Eggshell Blues
'Sarah Curwen's debut play is atmospheric, intriguing, darkly funny and takes you mind down several unexplored avenues. Not bad for 50-odd minutes … a poignant mix of apocalypse paranoia and everyday vanities. Good performances, especially Mundell's twitchy, emotionally autistic ornithologist, less a human than one of his birds. A great little play which measures out its paranoia and humour in superbly judges doses.'
Steve Wright - Venue
Salt'n'Sauce
'… a wee gem of a play … This hour-long choppy little play opens with a well designed 'student pad', as yet again Theatre West provides a great stage set within the confined space of pub theatre. … extremely well written and the actors do full justice to the high quality of the writing.'
Theresa Roche - BBC Bristol website

'There were many exquisite moments of high comedy, including ghastly Paul, the director, (Simon Winkler) undressing for a shower and removing his underpants following a discussion about lighting cues just as the lights went down. Paul Mundell was fine as the foolish writer John. Simon Winkler as John’s director Paul was on top form as the unbearable dramatist, while Jo Lancastle as Emily had the technician’s body language just right.'
Harry Mottram - Bristol Evening Post
The Voice that Keeps Silent
'… absolutely screams with high quality writing … The set design itself makes the show worth watching … Bizarre and daring, it is intriguing rather than entertaining and is not for the faint hearted, nor the under 18s.'
Theresa Roche - BBC Bristol website

'David Carter takes us on a journey into addiction … right from the start, the audience is drawn into his characters' lives and their struggle to wean themselves off drugs - we even have to walk in between them to get to our seats.'
'I, played with convincing intensity and power by Martin Aukland … and You, superbly played by Dee Sadler … talk to each other and over each other, their individual monologues at times coming together to weave the same story, at others heading off in different directions. … it brilliantly evokes a sense of claustrophobia, obsession and hopelessness, with the cantankerous yet tender relationship between I and You providing some welcome humour and a sense of relief.'
Susie Weldon - Bristol Evening Post

2004

Shang-a-lang
'… a cracking piece of theatre which you really should think twice about missing'
Steve Wright - Venue

2003

'There are some companies you absolutely prize – and Theatre West is undoubtedly one of them.'
Vicky Frost, Bristol Evening Post
Little Pictures
'(Mike) Akers' writing is sharp … and his particular mix of glorious one-liners, daft bugger-y and poignant vignettes is funny, absurd and moving.'
Tom Philips - Venue
Pool Party
'The dialogue is well-judges, picking out the tension between characters … extremely watchable.'
Rebecca Gilbert - Bristol Evening Post
Murder Club
Pulls absolutely no punches whatsoever in telling this extraordinary true story, welding together treacle, dark comedy, dream, play surrealism and pastiche Gothic 'penny dreadful' to powerful effect.
Tom Philips - Venue
Blue Heart
This is smart, funny, accessible theatre; … intelligently directed by Alison Comley and well acted…. Ann Stiddard's design is simple yet brilliant, adding an extra dimension to the piece… Ruth Rogers' direction [of Blue Kettle] is surefooted… has the hallmarks of classic Theatre West quality.
Vicky Frost - Bristol Evening Post

2002

A Kind of Alaska
…Gerard Brown's first-rate production show(s) exactly why the Bristol pub theatre company has such a loyal following. A fantastic start to Theatre West's season.
Vicky Frost - Bristol Evening Post
Wilderness
Vitality, pathos and humour all combine admirably in Steve Hennessy's dense and powerfully convincing script.
Sebastian Pringle -Epigram
Red Men
… the adrenaline-drenched, high farce opening is a classic and the whole thing comes together again for a neat final twist.
Tom Phillips - Venue
The Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish
Director Pameli Benham really had the measure of the piece - showing a nice restraint in her interpretation of where reality and fantasy meet. Matthew Greenfield's performance as Henry was first rate.
Vicky Frost -Bristol Evening Post

2001

Best Season of the Year - Venue

Company of the Year - Bristol Evening Post
You may have noticed I can't stop enthusing about them. The consistency of the productions is admirable… Most city's rep companies don't get it right so often.

New play of the Year - Bristol Evening Post
Aelfreda and the Burnt Buns
…Dot Burrows deliciously bawdy take on the tale of King Alfred and the burnt cakes. Her re-imagining of Alfred's time in hiding… was original, imaginative and the dialogue was brilliant.

On the best set at the Alma… ever, Lisa Griffiths and Adrian Bouchet made for an engagingly spikey double act … one of the funniest slices of new writing we've had for a long time.
Tom Philips - Venue

Best New Play Runner Up - Bristol Evening Post
What's the Time, Mr Wolf?
James Anderson was mesmerising as the psychotic loner..
Tom Philips - Venue