Writer: Sean Michael Welch
Director: Melody Erfani
Reviewer: Marina Spark
The Public Reviews Rating:
The Bike Shed Theatre is committed to seeking out and showcasing local, national and international theatre to those of us in the South West and boy should we be glad. Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe 2012, All An Act delves into the dark comedy to be found beneath the initially sunny exterior of a couple of clowns preparing to start their show. The New York based company worked collaboratively with the writer, Sean Michael Welch, over the course of two years to come to this finished piece, which twists, turns and never quite resolves itself. The script is sharp, witty, and fast paced with characters that are wholly believable, thoroughly relatable and well rounded.
The director, Melody Erfani, has sensitively approached the turbulent feelings that the characters manifest as a result of dealing with a life changing decision. Erfani’s direction, combined with the talents of the two highly perceptive actors, has resulted in finely tuned, engaging, truthful characters that are totally absorbing to watch.
Adam Petherbridge and Kathleen O’Neal play Merkin and Petunia; two clowns and life-long friends at loggerheads over what to do with their unwanted pregnancy and whether there is any point in trying to save their damaged relationship. Although both actors use excellent physical comedy, show some clowning skills and perform the odd joke, the piece itself is not about clowning. The theme is an effective way of displaying the masks that these characters wear about themselves as a form of identity and protection and it sets up some highly juxtaposed, darkly comedic moments. Both actors have excellent dramatic and comedic timing, often disarming the audience by making them laugh then instantly cringe at their insensitivity towards the characters. What makes the play so fascinating is the extent of character development that takes place; by the end of the play, with their metaphorical masks removed, both characters are unrecognisable.
All An Act is a very clever show, created and performed by an exciting, fresh, young company of creatives. Prepare to be moved, shocked and tickled by this show, but be warned – All An Act will leave you wanting a sequel.