The Stretch

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Following on from its success as part of JB Shorts 19, MAP Productions have reworked and extended The Stretch from its original 15 minutes into an hour-long piece as they examine the lasting & devastating impact one moment of madness can have.

We follow Lee (James Lewis) through his long 10 years in prison, joining him on a brutal and soul-destroying journey as he visually charges before us from strong self-assured new kid on the block to defeated & destroyed shadow of his former self, broken by the brutality of life on the inside.

Through atmospheric lighting & inspired design the arches of 53Two have been transformed into a menacing & moody environment adding an almost immersive feel to proceedings. The cast make full use of the multi-layered set, lurking in the shadows as new boy Lee is led in to serve his time before powerfully making their presence known.

Joe Ainsworth’s script is melodic and pacy as with each year that passes hope fades and survival instinct takes hold before the reality of abandonment & isolation takes over.

4 - Photo by Sean Mason

James Lewis gives a superb performance as Lee, honest and real in his portrayal he takes us on an incredibly raw and deeply poignant journey. His measured performance transitions from witty and light to heartbreakingly raw as he becomes increasingly broken by the failing prison system.

The ensemble add depth and authenticity to this production, taking on various roles depicting individuals on both the inside and outside of the prison walls and the impact Lee’s one monumental mistake has on them.

Simon Naylor’s fluid direction creates pace and adds poignancy to the quieter more emotional moments allowing them the impact they deserve.

The Stretch offers powerful performances which movingly highlight the tragic repetitive cycles happening daily in prisons around the country if not the world. A brave and honest account of one man’s devastating descent into hopeless institutionalisation. Affecting and important theatre.

The Stretch is on at 53Two until Friday 15th March, tickets available here

Tickets £10 with unwaged tickets available for every performance. Please bring proof of being in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support to the box office when collecting tickets.
Tuesday 12th March performance is BSL interpreted

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol

CC

Review by Matthew Forrest

Panto season is in full swing at this time of year, but fairytales and jolly japes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you’re looking for something a little different to get your festive juices flowing, then the MAP Repertory Company’s take on A Christmas Carol offers the perfect alternative.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, has made captivating reading for young and old alike for just short of 175 years when the novel was first published in 1843. There have been countless film adaptations of this classic tale,  all offering something a little unique and this version is no different.

Told with various cast members acting as narrator, we are introduced to Mr Ebenezer Scrooge and his dutiful, down trodden  employee Bob Cratchit as they are busy working on Christmas Eve. We get a look into the blackheart of Scrooge as he berates his employee for want Christmas Day off, as well as mocking his nephew Fred, for his merriment and positive outlook  over the festive season. What follows is Scrooge’s road to redemption as he encounters four spirits who look to save the old misers soul before it’s too late.

This is a highly original attempt at this old classic that doesn’t always hit its mark but is a great deal of fun regardless. The cast all work their socks off playing muliple roles and are clearing having a ball, the show is a blend of music and comedy, with a great deal of joy coming from the introduction of the puppet Tiny Tim. What sets this apart from other productions is the way they used the space at 53Two venue, all aspects are covered with various cast members popping up in the theatre. The soundscope is brilliant especially during the scenes with the ghosts, made all the more immpressive by the limited budget of the play.

With a running time of just under hour, Map rep company have tried to cram as much story in as possible, which doesn’t quite work in parts: the biggest problem being the introduction of the tension between Scrooge and his nephew is left unresolved. In addition Scrooge’s scaving encounter with the charity workers isn’t mentioned until after he has his epiphany: so when Scrooge shows his charitable side it has very little impact as it was seen without context.

This is a fun, smart  show, suitable for all the family that will provide a spring in the step as we march towards Christmas,packed with fine performances, comedy, Christmas  carols and lashings of good cheer it’s well worth watching.

On at 53Two until Saturday 23rd Dec, tickets available here.