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Bruised Sky Productions presents




Katie Batson Photography


Writer: Martin Murphy


Director: James Kermack


Company Manager: Julia Haworth


Sound Designer/Technician: Kevin Millband


Set Designer: Amy Cook


Associate Producer: Veronica Humphris


Tristan Bates Theatre


15 March – 3 April 2010






A review by Jafar Iqbal for EXTRA! EXTRA!

It only takes ten minutes of Manor, from Bruised Sky Productions, for you to realise where the inspiration for this one-act play has come from. The Armani suits, the East End vernacular, the gratuitous violence, the witty wisecracks; it’s a concoction Guy Ritchie would be proud of. Now, that’s by no means a sleight on the production; to have a style of filmmaking seep onto the stage is natural, just like we witnessed with The Woman in Black all those years ago. In fact, it could be seen as an indication of where the next generation of artists is taking theatre – an experience that meshes together the buzz of live performance with the frenetic pace of film.

And frenetic this play is, without a doubt. The writer, Martin Murphy, makes it absolutely clear that this is not a play with an interval, and he couldn’t be more right. Moving along at breakneck speed, Manor is an edge-of-your-seat kind of show, always giving you just enough to keep you wanting more.

The story centres on one night in the lives of three men. Stud is the local East End villain who lies dead in the toilets of a pool hall. Man is the owner of said pool hall. And Joe is the plucky, naïve teenager that seems to have committed the crime. Told through the eyes of all three characters, the true nature of the events slowly piece together bit by bit, revealing an incident that is more tragic than you will be led to believe.

But just telling the story from start to finish would be boring, to be frank; thankfully, the writer agreed with me and constructed a play that threw chronology and linear narrative out of the window. Instead, the audience were subject to a story that jumped back and forth through time, moving straight to the ending before pulling right back to the beginning of the story.

What really draws the audience in, though, is the way in which the writer tells the story. Instead of standard dialogue each character moves the story forward with, at times, beautifully written monologues. There is a poetry in the words that keeps the audience engaged with the story, and that is a very interesting and successful method of storytelling.

Well-written monologues are only as successful as the actors that perform them, and the actors here were excellent. Each character was perfectly defined and developed, with it clear that the actors have invested a lot of time and effort into finding the essence of their roles. Stephen Pucci, as Stud, is by far the stand-out performance here. His portrayal of a sadistic East End gangster is nothing short of fantastic. From the bloodshot eyes to the grimacing smiles, to the bluntness in his tone, it all adds up to a character that should be hated but can’t be helped but loved purely for how he is. He moves between twisted rage and suave calm effortlessly, and steals the show every time he is on stage. James Kermack, who also directed, is up there too as pool hall owner Man. It’s a very understated performance, and Kermack has an excellent knack for comic timing. Barra Collins, as Joe, also impresses, but he is hampered slightly by a character that is perhaps the least developed. The intensity of the character does shine as the show moves into the second half, but he doesn’t quite have the same impact as the other two men. Special mention has to go to, Elspeth Rae, as Joe’s girlfriend Kel. She has very, very few lines in the production, but is very integral to the plot and is very successful in her body language and facial expressions.

Technically, too, the play is fantastic. It is a very minimal setting (one pool table and two stools), but the set is used cleverly for different purposes. The lighting was also very well-used, with spotlights cleverly manipulated and used throughout the production. The technical aspect of the production is truly where the theatre meets the cinema, making for an exciting hour.

This production is by no means perfect, but the filmic quality of its direction and writing makes it an engaging and entertaining piece of theatre. This was a very solid attempt at bringing that Guy Ritchie-esque style of film onto a stage and, for the effort of the actors and the poetry of the writing alone, this is a good play to spend your money on.



15 April – 3 April: 7.30pm

Tickets: £12 / £10 concessions

Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9NP

Box Office: 020 7240 6283








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