"Original and Highly Entertaining Drama"
by Paul Ackroyd for remotegoat on 31/03/17

We all have dreams and from time to time imagine ourselves in other worlds but what happens when such fantasies take over the reality of our lives. All the characters in Peter Hamilton's new play, currently playing at the White Bear in Kennington, are imagining themselves in an alternative reality. Rob, an introverted failed driving instructor comes to believe that he is actually a Chinese wilderness Poet. His wife Lynne's dream is more realistic; to have a baby but begins to accept that this is unlikely to happen while she is in relationship with Rob. Perhaps unwisely she confides in her sister, Josie , whose own wine fuelled fantasy is to start producing her own vintages, presumably to shorten the distance from vine to throat. She, in turn, enlists the help of her husband, Greg, who also happens to be Rob's boss, whose own dream to give up being a businessman and start growing vegetables. The interplay of these well drawn characters provides for a fascinating and highly entertaining evening.

Peter Hamilton's script is excellent, tightly drafted, fast moving and very funny while maintaining poignancy. The acting was universally strong. The accolade of the night must go to Charles Sandford as Rob , whose long lanky body and dejected demeanour precisely projected the image of a Chinese aesthete lock in the body of a Romford driving instructor. He was also extremely athletic and very good at blowing bubbles! On press night he must get an additional award for extricating himself from an unscripted costume failure when his zip failed to open! Carla Freeman gave a very good portrayal of his alcohol sodden sister-in-law. Acting inebriated on stage is difficult and can easily tip over into farce, but this was a very well controlled and believable performance. Evelyn Craven played Mary Jane, Rob 's innocent driving pupil who unintentionally encourages him to pursue his fantasies. Their scenes together in the car were both some of the funniest and most touching in the play. The most enigmatic acting in the play was by Josie Ayres who played a range of characters , including a doctor, but also was the voice of Rob's limited number of Facebook and Twitter friends to whom he unwisely opened up his fantasies. She, dressed in her doctor's white coat, was in the background in many of the scenes and gave the impression that, perhaps, what we were witnessing was yet another reality inside the mind of a seriously deluded individual.

The play was staged in the upstairs theatre at the White Bear with the audience on two sides. The floor was a mosaic and the only "scenery" two large canvases, one portraying mountain scenery perhaps an echo of Rob's desired wilderness. The only set furniture was a couple of wooden boxes which became a sofa, car or desk as required . Ken McClymont's direction was spot on, the play moved on rapidly and the interaction between the characters worked very well. My only slight criticism is that in a play with a large number of short scenes it is, I think, unnecessary and distracting to dim the lights to blackout quite so frequently, but that is a quibble in what is otherwise an excellent production. If you like theatre which is both highly entertaining and thought provoking, this is one for you.

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