Theatre Review-All Tomorrow’s Parties -The King’s Arms, Salford-Wednesday 23rd October 2013

All Tomorrow's Parties Poster

All Tomorrow's Parties Poster - Credit: Archant

“All Tomorrow’s Parties” is the 12th play written by writer/director Mike Heath. It tells the story of Claire whose husband has just walked out on her and hasn’t left her flat for months despite remonstration from her friends, Jimmy and Andy.

At the beginning of the play we are quickly and abruptly introduced to Claire’s life since the separation. The action all taking place in the untidy mass of her front room, an old leather sofa the main prop. We are not eased into the story, but instead thrown full pelt into Claire’s meltdown as she breaks down in tears and fishes a bottle of tablets from a plastic bag in preparation to swallow them all. She only stops when Jimmy turns up unannounced and unaware of her predicament unexpectedly saving her life in the process.

The significance of the opening sequence is lightened by Jimmy’s arrival with quick humour injected into the script reminiscent of a past generation, but it is during this second scene where the heart of the story comes to the focus when Jimmy makes a suggestion to Claire which he feels could answer her problems. Claire’s response is hysterical at first followed by alarm as it will be a secret that is being kept from Jimmy’ partner, Andy.

Shortly after Jimmy leaves her pondering his suggestion, Andy arrives to cheer Claire up in his own way which drastically backfires leading Claire to briefly slip back to her former, over emotional existence and is soon corrected by a kiss that leads to a blackout of the scene. What follows for the next seventy minutes or so is a love triangle with a difference. For one, the main ingredient of the triangle isn’t love, but rather a desire or need which is all connected to the three of them. The story deals with acceptance of responsibility and a realisation of personalities and behaviour.

Tracy Gabbitas plays the role of Claire and the immediate impact of her abilities is detailed in the opening scene. We are not given any time at all to settle into the storyline before she makes her entrance and proves a wonderful ability in a catalogue of emotions throughout the storyline. There are moments where her character becomes unhinged and like a frayed piece of string is likely to snap at any moment.

Nick Pearse plays the role of Jimmy with a tender, soft initial approach which develops into more of a comedic role throughout the storyline, but the intensity of his emotion plays through his eyes in the opening scene on the initial sight of the situation that Claire is in and his uncertainty of his actions. It is a true credit to a great performance and exceptional acting capacities.

Haydn Holden bursts into the action with utter exuberance in a truly entrancing performance as Andy with pace and stamina from his entry. It is a performance that slowly unravels during the play and the persona of Andy’s characteristics slowly start to wain which is at no detriment to the actor, but true acclaim for his talent and understanding of the character.

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This is the second of Mike Heath’s plays that I have had the pleasure to watch and proof that his ability to turn a storyline and enthral an audience are all part of his gift as a writer. Heath takes us full circle through grief into light humour with a nervy attempt at reconciliation straight back through to heartfelt drama in a storyline that he has created, but could no doubt be a true reflection on real life.

As a director, Heath hones his script and cast well outing all the relevant feelings of emotion throughout traumatic pieces of drama accompanied by a forlorn soundtrack of music from the 80’s and 90’s reminiscent of many school heartbreaks and romance. For one, I admired the set which has been kept simplistic. A tattered, worn leather sofa and a table were the only real props with the exception of the rubbish that had gathered around them both. The idea of the rubbish almost symbolises the main crux of the story and no matter how many times the mess was attempted to be cleaned away, it never was. Much like the situation of the three characters in the story, it was an untidy situation that could never be properly cleaned.

I have recently learnt that Mike has been invited to the BBC as a new writer which is the greatest accolade he could have wished for and now audiences on a wider scale will have the privilege of his work. You can find out more information on Mike Heath at his website – www.mikewriter.org.uk

All Tomorrow’s Parties plays again on October 26th at 7.30pm and on October 27th at 3.00pm at The King’s Arms, Salford (http://www.kingsarmssalford.com/)

www.robgemmell.co.uk @RobGemmell1