The Customs House, South Shields
Every year The Customs House New Writing Festival has one shining gem of a play that stands out. This year, if I were a gambling man, I would say that The Unattended would be a safe bet as the pick of the festival.
Daniel Maier's comedy is set in the security room of a busy shopping centre. On the night shift a mysterious unattended bag appears, forcing three hapless security guards to work together. Jack, Bob & Nat must solve the mystery of how the bag got there and what is inside.
Maier clearly has a talent with good comedy gags, as his track record working on Harry Hill's TV Burp and Alistair McGowan's Big Impression clearly shows. However even the greatest one liners put together still won't form a good play, so it's lucky he knows how to work gags around a plot and not the other way round! All the comedy comes from the situation that the three security guards are in, making it very real and very funny.
Handling most of the humour in the show is well known North East actor Peter Peverley. Perfectly cast as Bob, Peverley delivers some great comedy in an excellent all-round performance. Philip Harrison (Jack) and Louis Roberts (Nat) both put in solid performances, Harrison as the older wiser guard and Roberts as the young know-all with attitude.
David Tarkenter's direction plays to the actors' strengths, which really creates definition for each character. Tarkenter also handles the physical comedy very well, complementing the humour of the script.
The Unattended is a little short at just over an hour. Do not fret though, as that hour is good solid entertainment from a quality writer and strong cast. A very funny play is on offer thanks to Daniel Maier and The Customs House, so go see this gem of the festival!
Reviewer: Wayne Miller