REVIEW: Furniture frolics at The Abbey

It’s hard to know what to expect from a show entitled ‘Sofa / Bed Double Feature’, but the Breakaway Theatre Company show turned out to be a quirky production with both laughs and powerful acting that kept the audiences entertained at The Abbey Theatre last night.

The shows were two entirely separate productions with one thing in common - they were both centred around a piece of furniture.

The obvious star of Sofa, written by Pete Hawes, is Dan Quirke who plays Billy, who uses kooky mannerisms, well-timed expressions and bizarre musings to fantastically funny effect.

He is well supported by the rest of cast, particularly Kat Wiener as Mandy, and the pair bounce off each other in their amusing routines.

Abi Giles was a little too shrieky in her role as Margaret, especially in such an intimate theatre space but fortunately the contrast of Les (Chris Baker) and his gruff one-liners were the perfect antidote and the couple carried off their scenes with great comic effect.

The final scene in Sofa builds to an hysterical climax which leaves everyone with a big smile on their face.

The audience might have been expecting more of the same in Bed, but it was a total departure from the first half, and ‘surreal’ is probably the only word which could describe it.

Written by Jim Cartwright, Bed takes a look at the dreams of a group of people who are forced to spend the night time hours together in an enormous bed, under the malevolent view of a bitter and resentful ‘bed head’.

Once you get to grips with the strange set-up and give in to the surrealism, the acting itself is excellent.

Each character has a monologue, which at first seem to be random musings but then touch on a wide range of subjects from the decline of England to miscarriages, and give real insight into the various characters.

It’s a harrowing piece but there are some light-hearted touches, and I couldn’t help but giggle at Emma Summers and her brilliant portrayal of Charles - ‘Oh I say, jolly good.’

It’s well worth a watch and an original, flawlessly performed production.

Settle into the Sofa and get into Bed tonight and tomorrow (February 18) at 7.45pm, at The Studio, The Abbey Theatre, St Albans.

Call 01727 857861 to book.

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