STAGE REVIEW: Whale of a Time @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle (17.05.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Luke Maddison (Actor), Lucy Curry (Writer), Paula Penman (Director), Carl Wylie (Writer), Steve Byron (Actor)

Peachplant, this new North East theatre company, aims to tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways and there’s not much that would jolt you out of the routine of everyday life more than turning up inside the belly of a whale. Switching up your context is a great way of prompting an existential conversation you probably would never have had any place else, as Robbie discovers when he encounters Albert in this surreal setting, brought to life by Kylie Ann Ford.

Albert’s been here 25 years and has got things just as he likes them, as far as you can when all the resources you have are what have been washed in, just like you were. His little home is cosy in its own way and his routines comforting. So it’s clearly not a realistic portrayal of inside a whale – it’s relatively static for a start, and dry, and well, habitable. But trust me, Robbie and Albert soon draw you in to their small world, as the unlikely pair move from suspicion, fear and awkwardness to a tender (although Albert would never admit to that – he’s old school) and significant connection.

This short play is a dance from beginning to end, as the movements transform from reactive and edgy to flowing and sensitive. Lucy Curry’s choreography is much more than the dance sequences, bringing so much to the expression of the developing relationship between these two men. Alongside Carl Wylie, Lucy Curry is also responsible for this clever script which brings wistfulness and nostalgia, loneliness and sadness, tenderness and joy, all wrapped up in a delightfully funny conversation where Robbie introduces Albert to the joys of mobile phones, Raoul Moat and vegan sausage rolls.

And then there are the performers, Luke Maddison and Steve Byron, whose comedic timing, asides, gestures and expressive tone are hugely entertaining and enchanting. The chemistry between them is just fab. The audience have a whale of a time; the ending comes too soon. This multi-layered, enjoyable show is definitely worth a visit (at least one visit!) and you’re invited to Pay As You Feel at the end of this performance that champions accessible theatre for all.

Whale of a Time is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 4th June

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