At Artsite, on Wednesday night, I sat down to witness a double bill of original plays that paired together like Port and Stilton.  Like peaches and cream.  Like Hallowe’en and Brexit.

Both were frenzied, fresh and fertile comedies that bounced along like Tigger on acid.  Both created vivid and textured worlds for their characters to inhabit.  And both culminated with a gun-crack of tragedy that left the audience completely wrong-footed.

‘Bedsitland’ introduced us Terry and Blandy, a young couple living in the compact confines of a bed-sitting room.  Their home is just one in a maze of cramped dwellings populated by a miscellany of peculiar personalities.  But despite the chaos, noise and lack of privacy they live a simple and happy life.  Until…

The set was simply dressed with cardboard boxes, a sofa and other simple dressing and the cast only numbered two, Samantha Lund as Blandy and Jim Crago as Terry.  Despite that the amount of the unrestrained anarchy the talented duo managed to produce on stage could’ve filled Wembley stadium.  The whole audience were invited on stage for a house party at one point. A very self-conscious house party as far as some of the unwilling participants were involved, but a house party nonetheless.

But like many a good party the good times come to an end.  Things take a dark turn and, like the characters, we’re left to mourn better times.

And after that Harvey Greenfield is running late.  Literally running.  Almost without rest.  And late for everything.  He’s a man who can’t say no and he’s in a number of terrible fixes as a result.

After last years’ “Short Plays about Marvellous People” Paul Richards returned to the Swindon Fringe with his new one-man show.  The very first public performance, no less.  And, just like last year, Richards seems to have comic energy to burn.  He makes Lee Evans seems narcoleptic by comparison.

And he uses up every last iota of that energy in a show that features him running on the spot for the best part of 50 minutes interrupted only by the occasional spot of table football.  Throughout he interacts with a soundtrack of music and voice-overs as the people in his life pull him in every direction at once.  The result is mostly laugh-out-loud, but punctuated with sorrow.  Harvey Greenfield is a man who tries to please everyone and, as a result, pleases no-one.  Least of all himself.

It can only end badly.  But that doesn’t stop it hurting when it does.

Both shows charm and entertain before pulling the rug out from under the audience.  Ingeniously written and powerfully performed.

 

 

 

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