The Lost World Of Malcolm Bridge – Darkly Thought Provoking​!

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This show has now closed (closing on the 20th July 2019) and I was lucky enough to be invited to review it as I had previously reviewed another production by the same company ( Leo Michael Tied To The Vicarage Review).

The play is about terminally ill Malcolm Ridge who is cryogenically frozen in 1987 hoping for a cure in the future but when he is released 150 years later it is to a different world and one where absolutes have been set aside and nobody can be wrong as everybody is considered to be speaking the truth. It is an interesting concept and one which I was intrigued to see.

This production was playing at my local theatre – The Tabard Theatre. The theatre is situated above the pub of the same name near Turnham Green Station. The theatre is small and intimate but lovely space. With approximately 10 rows of seats with most rows being seat 1-5 then an aisle then 6-10 but, the front and back row are slightly different. Each row is raised on its own tier creating a stairway of seats to the back. The seats are and a standard flip-down seating and quite comfy too. Even from the back of the theatre, you will get a good view as it is not too far from the stage area.

I collected my ticket from the lovely box office (which is situated at the top of the stairs near the entrance to the auditorium and waited for the house to open.

As you enter the auditorium you see the set – three white chairs set out upstage in a semi-circle and on stage left a white box. The chair on stage left has a small pink perspex square on it (actually used as a computer tablet). The box is used as a table and steps whilst the chairs are used to create futuristic video phones. It is a simple set with the cast moving the chairs and box into place as needed, without disturbing the flow of the play but it works as it adds to the sense of futuristic minimalism.

A cast of six provides the action for the play with five acting on stage and one providing a live interactive voice over. They all work well together to produce a polished production.

Miranda Shrapnell (playing  Abigail Vashnay) is excellent as the young scientist who is assigned to help Malcolm (Stewart Briggs) back to modern life as it is. She has a good stage presence and this works well on set. She manages to convey the emotions of the character and her feelings towards Malcolm and her family (as the plot unfolds!). She also manages to take the audience on a journey with her as she discovers more about what has happened in her own past.

Stewart Briggs (playing Malcolm Ridge) is excellent as the confused ‘stuck in 1987’ man who is trying to understand what has happened both to him, his family and to the world. He manages to remain calm and you find yourself warming to him as the play develops. He has a great accent that works well for the character. I loved the scene where he is wearing a shell suit and tries to convince the futuristic Abigail (Miranda Shrapnell) that it was the height of fashion!

Michael Harrison (playing Keele Symarna) is excellent as the Ministry figure. He manages to create a confident and slightly slimy character who you find yourself warming to due to the situation he is in. He has a strong voice and uses this well to create the emotions of the character.

Thomas Cove (playing Simon Vashnay) is brilliant as the scientist or authoritative body who, despite the current thinking, has a conscience and heart. He has a great stage presence and this work well for the character, especially in any confrontational scenes.

Nesba Crenshaw (plating Marjon Du Mont) is excellent as an esteemed researcher and doctor in the field of cryogenics. She has a great voice and projection that works well to create a confident and calm character. I loved how she manages to remain calm and collected during questioning by The Judge.

Amelie Edwards (playing The Judge) is excellent as the stern and calming voice of the Judge, adding a sense of authority. She interacts with the characters from her position off stage and does so well. Initially, I was thinking that the voice was on tape but the timing and interaction could not be done by tape. She has a great, clear voice and this works well especially when combined with the echo on the microphone, creating a feeling of a courtroom with its acoustics.

Overall this is a production that has a dark topic which covers the ‘what would be if’ syndrome of being able to freeze oneself and come back in the future, be it for medical or historical reasons but, I think it also touches on the possible fall out of voluntary euthanasia. Whilst being dark there are some humorous moments that add to the feelings of the characters and draws the audience to them.

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