WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Bush Theatre RUN TIME: 75 minutes no interval
WHEN?: (press ticket) 13/11, runs to 24/11/18
One of the reasons we love the Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, south-west London, is that it champions new writing that both challenges but also seems rooted in reality.
- Read on for reasons including how this work attracts the working classes and those who feel alienated by the word ‘theatre”
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is a new piece of gig theatre written by Luke Barnes with original live music from James Frewer based in Hull spanning the 30 years to 2017.
Along the way it mulls over Margaret Thatcher, New Labour, Britpop and Brexit. Its theme is perhaps best summarised by the script dedication: ‘This play is for them, everyone who still believes that things can only get better and the people of Hull.’
We meet Leah (Bryony Davies, devastating as she tears into the father who loves her but can’t give her everything she wants) and Chris (a muscular James Stanyer unafraid to show his vulnerability) as they are born and every 10 years later as they become friends.
Marc Graham is brilliantly cast as the MC who is so on-the-edge that the audience is never entirely sure whether he wants us to take a selfie with him or berate us for our lack of enthusiasm in lighting up our mobiles and waving them in time to the music with him.
Each of the six-strong cast takes it in turns to sing how they feel through microphones, play guitar or drums. There’s even a singing asteroid which is hurtling towards Earth and threatening its inhabitants.
The joy of the play is that it is unafraid to make us loathe its characters (as well as love them) and never ducks the difficult questions, including what happens when our dreams don’t become reality?
The programme describes director Paul Smith as focussing ‘on audiences, specifically creating an environment which attracts the working classes and those who feel alienated by the word ‘theatre”.
It’s a bold claim but well realised here in a loud and lively piece of gig theatre which lands 2 important ideas – always be kind, especially to yourself, and seize the day – powerfully.