"Entertaining Stories Enlighten Human Concerns"
by Arthur Duncan for remotegoat on 18/03/16

Groundswell Theatre brings significantly engaging plays to The Alma Tavern in leafy, Bristol B8
Playwright, Phil Booth's extensive experience in varied aspects of live entertainment contribute enticingly tasty fruit in his writing for stage performance. This package of three bitter-sweet scripts, 'Three For Two' is an easily digested but substantial 3-course entertainment, nourishing its audience with stories that could involve any of us. All are relative to the universal human dilemma: What are our options & how are we to choose?

In 'Control' - first seen last summer at The Bristol Bierkeller - Winston J Pyke reprises here, even more effectively, his role of a young man forced to consider his worth. What price does he set on his personal integrity? How low will he sink for financial gain? Booth's script also questions the corollary: How much will self-obsessed Avarice pay for self-gratification and is exploiting the vulnerable ever okay? This performance by Winston J Pyke is superbly in control of all these elements in debating the playwright's premise, with a little help from 'Dad's sound advice.

Clive Duncan will be remembered by many from his nation-wide live appearances in every sort of location as well as on film, tv & radio. And after over a decade teaching his craft at a leading Academy of Performance Arts, Clive has returned to doing what he evidently loves and is brilliant at - acting to live audiences.

In 'Nightmare In Paradise' (totally not related to any TV series of vaguely similar title) Clive acts with meticulous observation, a melancholic middle-aged chap in a crisis. Professional success has run out of road, companionship with a younger man is losing its lustre. A tawdry 'whodunnit' he reads while lover-boy swims in the sea of eternal youth, epitomizes his bleak prospects and suggests a conclusion for his own predicament. But is it right? Are there alternatives? Who in hell knows?

Here again, the author encompasses so much in so confined a dramatic world. Phil Booth could replace Pinter without pausing to doubt his ability to take care of English-spoken drama in future.

'Say Yes' is a change of pace as both Duncan and Pyke antagonize each other in a secretive situation focused on personal integrity. Duncan is the perfect servant to a dissolute young celebrity whose newly acquired wealth buys forbidden pleasures. But where is the integrity he needs to regulate his lifestyle?
More clearly than ever, Booth presents a hypothetical case from which we all gain insight by proxy.
Winston J Pyke is uncannily well-cast as a footballer – the very model of a modern, majorly overpaid, over-confident, amoral man. Clive Duncan is impeccably old-fashioned, and accessory to unlawful acts, trapped into collusion. What's to do? Be loyal to the hand that feeds or sacrifice one's self on the sword of Justice? Is there in Shakespeare any more consuming dilemma for Mankind? To be honorable, or be worthless.

Despite these underlying, serious issues, 'Three For Two' is an uplifting collection of live performance delivered by a highly professional company that is sure to please their patrons. You have until 28th March to catch these dramatic gems at Bristol's Alma Tavern, - unless you know of sponsors who will support and venues that will present GROUNDSWELL THEATRE's production elsewhere in the UK.

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