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Review: Nine Lives, An Evening of New Writing, at the Everyman, Cheltenham

By citizenmike  |  Posted: January 19, 2014

Shorts, a new writing project from The Landor theatre in London

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YOU never know quite what to expect when you sit down for an evening of new writing.

In fact most people opted to sit next door instead for One Night of Elvis.

The people in the Everyman’s main auditorium were missing a treat in the studio space.

An Evening of New Writing is an interesting collaboration between savvy Everyman creative director Paul Milton and the team from Shorts, a new writing project based at The Landor, in London, which is a quirky little theatre above a pub that I have come to adore over the years.

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They presented an eclectic collection called ‘Nine Lives’ - telling nine very different short stories.

Delta Fantastica, written and performed by Mandi Symonds, was one of the highlights. It tells the story of Delicia Dawn, supreme defender of the Golden Ark, which feeds the Delta Fantastica. She uses her nipple shots, big breasts and firm, rounded buttocks to destroy the evil Groggs who threaten the Fantastica, while her pal Brutus Bogus uses his bogey ‘rocks’ to dispel their evil forces.

In reality, Delicia is a lonely, middle aged, frumpy woman sitting in her dark, back bedroom on the 11th floor of a run-down tower block with only her laptop and broadband connection to aide her in her quest in a virtual world. When the broadband is cut out, her imaginary world comes to a crashing end and this all-powerful crusader is reduced to an oddball woman who we come to pity.

Another highlight had to be Swithin Fry’s White and Black. The Painswick writer has turned events in his own life into a short stage play. He tells the story of him writing to, and meeting, a Death Row prisoner who he believes to be innocent.

I had the pleasure of hearing Swithin give a talk on the very subject just a few months ago at the Stroud Subscription Rooms. To see his talk transformed into a short play was very enlightening. Mark Kempner’s characterisation of Fry was uncanny and Declan Wilson’s portrayal of Tim, our Death Row prisoner, is convincing.

The fact that it is a true story - and Fry continues to fight for Tim’s release - makes it all the more powerful.

This collection of new writing was thoroughly enjoyable. A real treat. A feast for the eyes and ears.

People of Gloucestershire, if you weren’t in that audience, you missed out.

Michael Wilkinson

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