Theatre Review - Stuff, 24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 19:55 20 July 2014
STUFF is part of 24:7 Theatre Festival taking place in Manchester until the 25th July. A Festival aimed at showcasing local new talent. So did the play about life, death, friendship and a baby break a leg?
I have to admit I was expecting this play to be heavy going. IVF and parents that are desperate to conceive (and unable to) is something I am only too familiar with in my own group of friends. So I was expecting the word ‘drama’ to be substantial throughout the play, to the point that I even wondered if I should take some tissues with me. I am, unfortunately and ashamedly, a lump of butter when it comes to sad stories – a little bit of heat and I’m dripping everywhere.
Then I watched the STUFF trailer at the 24:7 Theatre Festivals website… Hummm… I was intrigued. If I am honest, it looked a little weird. But in a way, it made my curiosity go up a notch. I love things that are a little strange, for they also tend to be thought provoking.
I am pleased to report that Mick Cooper, the playwright behind STUFF, didn’t take the easy route. For a play dealing with very raw human emotions - the fear of dying, losing your memory, the burning desire to have a child, the heart-breaking emasculating effect of not being able to conceive one, and the fear of losing a loved one or of being forgotten – it was absolutely hilarious! If I am allowed to be a little crude (sorry Mick!), it was like watching an episode of Friends.
Xav is a very eccentric character who is dying of a brain tumour and as one of his ‘what to do before you die’ wishes, he decides to help Jess, his best friend, and her husband Toby to conceive the baby they have been unable to conceive on their own. But everyone is keeping secrets, everyone has ulterior motives for their generosity and logic and, as it turns out, Xav also has about a million ways to say the word ‘sperm’! Some of them including the words juice, jam and marmalade.
I am far from a theatre connoisseur, but entertaining, raw, well performed and written, STUFF is definitely a play you should go and watch. It’s particularly good if you are not a massive theatre fan, as the setup is a little more casual and intimate, so you watch the play from a very close angle.
The 24:7 Theatre Festival showcases 10 plays, including STUFF, until the 25th of July. Tickets are just £8, so don’t miss out! Go to Manchester, do something new, watch something new.
Writer: Mick Cooper
Director: Gregg Scott
Company: My Beating Heart Theatre Co.
Cast: Eve Burley, Karl Greenwood, Danny Ryder
Duration: 60 minutes