"Funny, moving, powerful new play"
by Annie Draper for remotegoat on 04/11/17

The Black Eye Club by Phil Charles won the Bread & Roses Playwriting Award 2017 and is being staged for the theatre’s third birthday. It is a black comedy about domestic violence and whilst this may at first sound a bit odd, the production is spectacularly successful in what it does.

Lead characters of the story are Zoe and Dave. Dave is a gay man trying to get away from an abusive partner and is turned away late at night from a refuge for victims of domestic violence, because after funding cuts this refuge is ‘women only’, and cannot accommodate him. Zoe, on the run from a violent husband herself, takes pity on him and ends up hiding him in her own room at the refuge. However, the concierge Sharon is suspicious all night long that something unusual seems to be going on in Zoe’s room and they must make their best efforts to hide him. With Zoe and Dave being two characters from completely different worlds, the comedy of the play unfolds easily and concierge Sharon turns out to be a much more surprising and meaningful character than initially expected.

The production is staged in the centre of the room with audience on two sides and a beautiful set design by Sally Hardcastle. Director Tessa Hart maneuvers the space and content matter elegantly and cleverly and the cast all deliver strong performances, particularly Rebecca Pryle shone in the role of Zoe.

It is remarkable to see such a serious subject matter handled with taste, awareness and delicacy, yet still managing to get the humour and heart-warming tone of the piece across, and the writer, director and team are to be commended. Especially in these current times the production feels particularly topical and should be seen beyond its current home.

Other recent reviews by Annie Draper
Musical fun for the family by Annie Draper
Between a Man and a Woman
Powerful and poignant theatre piece by Annie Draper
Fifty Shades of Grey
All pain and no pleasure by Annie Draper
Hidden Figures
Promising premise, partly a success by Annie Draper
Constance & Eva
Brave, refreshing piece of theatre by Annie Draper