Theatre West


What a season of new writing we had in store for you! Over the course of 2015 we were busy working with some of THE best young writers in the region to develop five fantastic, innovative new plays.

There were also some amazing directors who created some of the most acclaimed new productions seen in the south west this year.

The Orator

The Orator

by Marietta Kirkbride
Directed by Chloe Masterton

Jenna helps people. No matter who you are or where you are in the world, when life strikes you a blow, Jenna is there for you. Because, like you, she has suffered - she's lived with chronic fatigue for over 6 years now, and she runs this blog to help you cope.

Jenna's also smart. She knows that opening up her life to the whole world has its dangers. But when David's comment lands on her blog, the temptation to find out more is impossible to resist.

The Orator is a messily human thriller about the struggle of self-help and online identity.

Marietta Kirkbride has been a Pentabus Young Writer, a writer-on-attachment at Bristol Old Vic and is a founder member of Bucket Club. Tanuja Amarasuriya makes theatre, film and audio work as a director and producer. She is co-founder of Sleepdogs, and co-Director of Theatre Bristol.

The Orator was preceded by The Driver, a short play by John Bassett.

As we wait to board the last train of the day the kindly driver munches on a sandwich and chats away, putting us at our ease. Everything seems so ordered and normal - there couldn't be anything sinister here … could there?



by Eno Mfon
Directed by Jesse Jones

A summer holiday surrounded by sweat and silence.

Adamma's parents have sent her to Nigeria to stay with an uncle that hardly speaks; she finds out more about her uncle Fred from the voices on his radio than from his own mouth. Adamma quickly realises that there are more than just 4,061 miles, a language barrier and cultural gulf that separate them. There are whispers, knocks at the door and phone calls that cut out at the sound of her voice.

When the pair are brought together by her father's betrayal, Adamma believes she finally gets Uncle Fred, but what she actually gets is far more than she can handle.

Eno Mfon graduated from Bristol University this year and in February performed her own monologue Check the Label at Bristol Old Vic. Jesse Jones won a Regional Theatre Young Directors Award in 2015 and recently directed the acclaimed 1972: The Future of Sex.

Shipped was preceded by Dummy House, a short play by Nick Havergal.

It's a different time, a different place but in his imagination the man re-visits his home of old. His room, his house, his village. But things are not as they were, it's all very wrong and soon, he knows, things will be worse.

The Room Upstairs

The Room Upstairs

by Ben Callon
Directed by Hannah Drake

'Hope … I'm starting to lose faith in that word to be honest.'

Q: Which is more annoying when trying for a baby?

  1. Having to watch friends on Facebook upload artistic pictures of their babies lying in baskets? (to be fair babies do look better in baskets)
  2. Having to answer the question 'are you guys gonna try and get pregnant soon then?''
  3. Having to accept the modern fallacy that infertility is a thing of the past thanks to IVF?

If you answered 'they're all bloody dreadful'' then you may well agree with Clem and Toby, who are finding that the roots of their own fertility struggles have been planted in the most ancient of soils …

Ben Callon is a writer/actor and has had plays produced in London, Bristol and Exeter. Hannah Drake has directed for some of the foremost companies in the region and this is her third production for Theatre West.

In Cheltenham The Room Upstairs was preceded by Tribute Act, a short play by Miranda Walker.

Bury Council's Legacy Department is in a bit of a pickle - they've found an unused pot of money but they don't know what to do with it. Oh, and it has to be spent by Friday. Cue a creative brainstorming session, loads of thinking out of the box and running ideas up the flagpole. All via Skype.

At The Wardrobe, The Room Upstairs was preceded by Tiramisu, a short play by Martin Malcolm.

With Lucy away on business Matt's interviewing Rita on his own and he thinks he's found the perfect new nanny for little Thomas. She's hot, she's Italian and, heaven be praised, she can cook. She's just too perfect for words!

Are You There

Are You There?

By Lucy Bell
Directed by Beth Shouler


But what if you're not enjoying your life? What if you know, in private, that it's a blessed nightmare? Then it's time to connect with God, even if He has an irritating habit of keeping one on hold.

In a rural Devon town, a handful of Beta people meet in a draughty nave for the Alpha course: "food, a talk and an opportunity to chat". They come to be shepherded by Rev Turnpenny and his enthusiastic assistant, Shirley. Except, they're not strangers for long and they quickly become irrevocably implicated in each other's lives.

Written by Ronald Duncan Award-winner Lucy Bell and directed by Beth Shouler, former Young Company Director at Tricycle Theatre, Are You There? explores the deeper, psychological reasons people still yearn for our founding faith. A spirited, funny two hander that spotlights the schism in British ideas about Christianity.

At The Bike Shed, Are You There? was preceded by Fake, a short play by Cally Hayes.

Fin is struggling to find his place in life and when he meets Nina, a damaged but feisty young woman, during a shift at a homeless shelter he thinks she might be the key to unlocking the truth about his past.

At Zion, Are You There? was preceded by Collision, a short play by Alice Jolly.

20 year old Adam is studying law and Helen is a middle-aged mum. Or at least she was until two years ago. As the two meet on a windy coastal path they both desperately try to break free of the one thing that binds them together.

Stomping on Shadows

Stomping on Shadows

By Hugh McCann
Directed by Matt Grinter

The big day has arrived. Four million anxious, caffeinated Londoners jostle on the start line preparing to begin the thousand mile triathlon. Elsewhere a metal whale floats longingly over the Atlantic, the dogs are glowing Listerine green and the sea monsters are eating the internet cables again.

On another part of the planet, Daisy has checked into her hotel room, from where she can see all the way out to the icebergs. Beyond the icebergs. All the way to the edge…

And then they're off! Stampeding uniformly over London Bridge, they leave only the children and the elderly waving their little flags, their damp, sun-drenched foreheads plastered in confetti.

Matt Grinter, one of the region's busiest young directors, has worked with fine artist turned writer Hugh McCann on this surreal, madcap romp across the globe that will leave you breathless - but with a smile on your face!

Stomping on Shadows was preceded by two short plays …

Coping by Martin Lytton

Life is sweet for Keith. He's just back from Lanzarote and he's feeling pretty chilled but then a chance encounter with his old mate Bob leaves him with a nasty taste in his mouth.

Child of the Nineties by Oliver Gamblin

"Jay, can we please just get on with this questionnaire?" Carly is at the end of her tether. Everyone else managed it in 20 minutes but Jay's taken an hour and counting. He's now eating into her lunch break and to cap it all he's now insisting she channels Stephen Fry to ask the questions.

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