The basement of Bristol Old Vic looks a touch neglected with its deflating balloons and a drooping ‘Happy Birthday’ sign, half fallen away from the Blu-Tack that once stuck it to the wall. Then there’s all the equipment necessary to make that Great British cuppa, a clackety old cd player and a couple of school-like plastic chairs. Rosanna Vize has given us everything we need to feel present in the cheesy ordinariness of a back room in any local community centre.
This is the stage for Trip the Light Fantastic, where Jack meets Freddie. Freddie meets Jack. The two are here to dance. Coming from different generations, the men struggle to get the steps right as, in tandem, they fail understand each other. But, as the Waltz progresses, so does their relationship and they become close in a way that they couldn’t have imagined. Miriam Battye’s writing is fresh and engaging. There are no surprises in this script but, observationally, it’s as sharp as a pair of scissors. The men’s stories are told with such gorgeous simplicity and effortless humour and the parts of Jack (Roland Oliver) and Freddie (Adam Farrell) are acted with such ease that this one hooked me.
It’s the coming together of two people who were supposed to meet; an inter-generational hook up that is often missing from our society. Good for Veronica, the unseen dance teacher, who had the brainwave of introducing our heroes. Because they are both heroes, they just don’t realise it yet.
Trip the Light Fantastic is preceded by a ten-minute, stand alone performance by Charlotte Ellis and Jack Maurice in Gone Fishing. Charlotte is Everywoman, looking for an internet date and she flicks through profiles, discarding a myriad of men, all played brilliantly by Jack, until finally narrowing her choice down to one possible love interest. Oliver Gamblin has written a witty tale for our times, a warning about what we ‘overshare’ to whom in this age of social media.
If you have an hour and ten minutes to spare and would like to step back out into the November night with a happy glow (honestly, almost every person had a silly smile on their chilled-out faces after these two pieces), take yourself into the depths of the Old Vic for some light relief. Theatre West have delivered some new writing that gives promise of all that good theatre yet to come.
More of the same please!
Trip the Light Fantastic plays at Bristol Old Vic until 28th November