November 10, 2017



Clock Tower Theatre Company began in 2013, conceived by executive producer Steve Bennett and associate artist Minty Booth. They have been running the theatre company for eighteen months, achieving their aim of giving creatives a platform to perform for Cardiff audiences. Their latest venture, a short play written by James Sarson and directed by Miriam Dorfner, ‘Bread’, was thoroughly enjoyable.

‘Bread’ was rendered enjoyable by a concoction of ideal ingredients: good writing, good direction and good casting. The play concerns two women awaiting the apocalypse, their supplies diminishing as they muse on how the end will come: a big bang, hellfire, sudden blackness? The stage was cluttered with cardboard boxes, a table laden with cans of beans and peaches, wine glasses and a bucket concealing a dead rat (which enabled Woman One to soliloquise while retaining a sense of realism). It was a claustrophobic set, exacerbated by the fact that audience members were huddled into the cramped coffee house. I myself had possibly the worst seat in the house, pressed against the wall, a potted plant tickling sweet nothings in my left ear. But this helped create the perfect ambience: a small room (possibly a kitchen or living room), two lonely survivors with no-one but each other for company, the audience essentially voyeurs. Sarson’s script was replete with plenty of humour, but he was also adept at emotive language, a passage concerning reminiscences of a kiss under an umbrella rich with sensory description, but avoiding a lapse into purple prose.

The lead actors were excellent. Faebian Averies gave a very naturalistic, understated performance, while Seren Vickers played an edgier character, displaying considerable emotional range. Also, their chemistry on stage was tangible, and there were times when I couldn’t tell if their dialogue was scripted or extemporised, so engaging and believable was their repartee.

The two related memories, which they had been stockpiling in case they ran out of conversation. Some of these memories were fond, such as the moment in which Averies’s character recalled her mother making bread. However, the two characters realised that their memories were often rose-tinted, even artificial; the bread wasn’t handmade. Dialogue concerning supermarket stalls demonstrated how much we take for granted, including such luxuries as fruit and (tubes of) yoghurt. The audience nervously awaited the apocalypse. No idea why the end of the world was approaching. We learned that the sky now resembled rust, that people had to wear gas masks outside, that tigers had become extinct. Sarson refused to satiate our desire for epistemophilia, which created an air of mystery that allowed us to focus primarily on his well-drawn characters, rather than an overarching apocalyptic narrative. The play concluded with a harrowing speech, an ordeal Averies’s character had recently gone through, the way her primal urges had taken over. The audience were silent, completely engaged by Averies’s delivery and Vickers’s reactions. And then, the characters reverted to the humour with which they had begun the play. Life is too short, after all.

The clock was counting down for these two characters but, judging by the talent on display here, Clock Tower Theatre Company have a bright future ahead of them.

One comment

  1. A fair assessment of a very enjoyable piece of theatre.

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