Bar Pop hosted the return of the successful 2017 run of ‘Up The Bunting’ by Wildcat in association with The Lipstick Thespians.

Bar Pop is in the heart of the gay village on Canal Street and has the perfect space in its basement to host productions for GM Fringe, offering a pint of lager for £2 and a glass of wine for £3 it’s the perfect evening without it burning a hole in your finances.

The play is written and played by Stephen Donald, directed by Alexis Tuttle the co finder of The Lipstick Thespians with her co-partner Hayley Cartwright who also stars in the play as Lisa the outlandish Reiki Master.

The story revolves around Colin (Stephen Donald) who is grieving for his worshipped mother his one true companion whom has accompanied him to their annual visit to the village fete in a tea caddy or as it would be later describe as ‘a biscuit tin’. With the mutual love of Bric-a-Brac Colin and his mother’s ashes set out to find that things have changed in more ways than one this year as the hook-a-duck has been replaced by a tent that emitted weird seaside music and displayed a large red Reiki sign.

With curiosity getting the better of him Colin wanders over to be greeted by the OTT and rather eccentric Lisa dressed in her hippy clothes and feather bower who promises to open up his chakras and heal his grieving heart.

Some fantastic dialogue from Stephen Donald as we witness some tender and touching moments as the character Colin reengages with his deceased mother through past memories of holidays in Wales and through his hallucinations he sees his mother in a youthful and beautiful way matching the alluring seduction of Diana Dors as she sings her infamous karaoke song ‘Jolene’ with the velvety voice of Dolly Parton and is once more the karaoke queen a moment he wants to last forever.

Lisa throughout her manhandling and over the top display of reiki which would see any normal person running out the door as fast as they could miraculously finds Colin some inner peace as he breathes sweetly and feels weightless he breaks through his emotional barrier realising he can laugh once again and remember the good times he had with his flawless mother and finds comfort that she’s in Bric-a-Brac heaven.

Some tremendous writing yet again by Stephen Donald as the story evolves with its twists and turn to its penultimate finale where Colin emotionally and physically rescues Lisa allowing the Phoenix to rise out of the ashes not beaten and not a victim but a true survivor of domestic violence.

Stephen Donald is not only a remarkable writer he is also an impressive and versatile actor, I personally struggled to engage with the character Lisa as I found the part was over played and almost childlike which left me cringing and uncomfortable to watch,’ less is so much more’ as this play has exceptional potential if only the character was less extreme and exaggerated.

Verdict: “Tremendous writing that cleverly encapsulates grief through comedy”

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 17th July 2018

North West End Rating: ★★★

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