Shop Front Theatre, Coventry


When a university flat mate who you fell out, for a very good reason, 14 years earlier, turns up at your house in the north of Scotland around 3.30 in the morning, hot foot from Cornwall and wearing six coats during a snow storm, even a confirmed Buddhist might get riled.

Rob (Graeme Rose), a renowned writer, is in trouble with what he assumes is a serious health condition that is not being taken seriously by the professionals.

Stu (Matthew Wait) is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company with a medical background in surgery. He is snowbound but due in the US two days before to make an important announcement. Rob’s arrival is an unwelcome and unpleasant surprise.

This sets the scene on number 6 of Theatre Absolute’s commissioned pieces based around their Thoreau inspired series, ‘Are We Where We Are?’.

This one, for me, concerns friendships and how there is a tendency for one party to grow up, move on, live in the future, become mature, and the other is intent on nostalgia, the past, and in Rob’s case, a self-centred and immature obsession with his health that, from the outside looking in, smacks entirely of battered mental health and guilt induced by, as he acknowledges himself, the fact that every time he writes about someone it turns out badly – for him and for them.

The story is well told and thrilling because there seem to be no rules and no rails so the destination is a complete unknown. Will Rob, let loose with a scalpel, kill himself or Stu? Will there be détente? Will Stu get his plane? Sorry, this sounds like the beginning of Soap! Confused? You will be!

Chris O’Connell and Julia Negus have a successful formula here that always delivers, always delivers good stories, drama and plenty to muse on. This is meaty fare as befits this series. There was no post-show discussion which I missed.

Shop Front Theatre has a new festival coming up Friday 23 and Sat 24 March in and around the theatre with more information at and then an expo about Coventry using archive film called Ghost Town Haunting on 16 April.

This was an enjoyable, thought-provoking piece with two brilliant actors delivering an enthralling piece of theatre. To 24-02-18.

Jane Howard


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