24:7 Theatre Festival
New Century House, Manchester
Steve Timms's story about a group of four student friends three years after graduation begins with a break-up as Susan tells a shocked Martin, as he is about to achieve success as a popular local poet, that "it isn't going anywhere".
Susan works in an office sorting examination papers but is struggling to pay the bills, so a work colleague suggests a well-paid sideline that would utilise her 'acting' skills. Adam works in an off-licence but sells a few pills on the side and believes he has a glowing future a a stand-up comedian when he gets round to doing something about it. Stick does some deejaying, but when his dad falls dangerously ill he has to borrow money to visit him. Martin's poetry, however, makes him a local celebrity with appearances on local and national television and his poems on the sides of buses.
There are a lot of strands to this play perhaps too many to really explore in just an hour and their arrangement sometimes leaves major characters offstage for rather too long, but there are some distinct, well-drawn characters and great story ideas that really draw you in and make you want to know more about what happens to them all.
There are some excellent performances from the actors playing the four main characters: Kate Newton as Susan, Marlon Solomon as Martin, Karl Dobby as Stick and Leon Jan as Adam, plus some great multiple-role playing from David Corden, Julie Chapman-Lavelle and Isobel McArthur.
The play overruns the supposed maximum length for the festival, but it doesn't outstay its welcome; in fact it is one of the very few that doesn't feel after an hour that it has gone as far as it can go, and perhaps an extra half hour would make it easier for Timms to sort out the structural problems and draw out some of the areas that aren't explored as well as they could be.
As it stands, it is a very entertaining hour and a bit that leaves you wanting more.
Reviewer: David Chadderton