Theatre at Baddow Studio
A play cannot be called complete until it's performed for an audience. Theatre at Baddow's enterprising double bill gives two playwrights an opportunity to see their work come alive, and their audience a chance to see new pieces premièred.
In Daniel Segeth's The Last Red, an elderly Spaniard, living in London, tells his dutiful daughters [Laura Hill and Ruth Cramphorn] the story of his part in the Civil War, as he has done every July 11. But this time there are new revelations … A tour de force from Mike Nower, in what is virtually a monologue, often moving, but rarely dramatic.
Another formidable widower in the armchair for Harry's Home, written by Hannah Puddefoot. Confused, but still chirpy, Harry Castle returns to the family home after three years of an odd-couple existence in a retirement flat. Not an easy homecoming – his daughter [Sally Ransom] is exasperated, his grandchildren more sympathetic but with problems of their own. Alzheimer's has given him a new articulacy and a taste for celery – Bob Ryall's performance catches the fun and the frustration of the man; in Helen Quigley's deft production [some nicely timed cross-talk] he is ably supported by Roger Saddington and Sarah Bell, with Chris Piper as a kindly carer. Perhaps a theme or two too many, and making a key scene nigh-on impossible to stage is a little ambitious, but an impressive début, with a touching "living will" coda to remind us that these "elderly ghosts were all young once".