Tuesday 2 July 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: A Quick Guide To Ruining Your Life - The King's Arms Theatre - Salford.

30-something Dawn Peachman has made a horrible mistake, but instead of facing the truth and coming clean, she has decided to hide out in her own attic and continue her ever snowballing tale of propaganda. We, the audience, are let in on her secret and are invited to listen to her open letter confessing all, including her highly probable drinking problem.

Staging a one woman show to an audience of 60 may seem a little risky; but actress Diana Atkins seemed well within her comfort zone. She captivated her audience throughout and had us in fits of laughter on many occasions. A few lines were lost due to this laughter, which is a shame, but that can easily be forgiven. It is no easy task to recite a 45 minute monologue, but Atkins never once faltered; not even when altering her voice and physicality to relay past conversations to her audience.

I am sure this is in part due to the script she was given to perform. Laura Harper is an award-winning playwright, having been longlisted for the Bread And Roses Theatre Company’s Playwriting Award. Harper’s script was written in such a way that the audience hung on every word. A modern, funny and compelling script that will resonate in some way with audiences of all ages (although not too young due to some of the language!).

Director Paul Worrall did not distract from the power of her script. There was no complicated choreography and the sound and lighting that was used only furthered the performance as a whole. The use of ‘Alexa’ as Dawn Peachman’s only confidante was hilariously tragic, and even more tragic when it began to malfunction.

Helped by dramaturg, Dan Jarvis, this simple production succeeded in entertaining with very little in the way of props, costume or set. This is understandably needed in the circumstances of the Manchester Fringe Festival, as another show was to follow this one.

This was the first production for new company ‘Not Norman’, but I am sure it will not be the last. ‘A Quick Guide to Ruining Your Life’ was a strong start to the Manchester Fringe Festival, so grab yourself a ‘£4.75 bottle of self-destruction’ and get down to The King’s Arms to witness some classy ‘M & S denial’ in the final shows.

Reviewer - Megan Relph
on - 1/7/19

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