Theatre Review: Waiting For Charlie @ The Hope Theatre
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With a running time of just 50 minutes, Waiting for Charlie is a heart-warming and realistic look into the lives of two friends as they struggle with maintaining their sanity and dealing with the s*** life throws at you.
Led with a strong central performance by Andrew Maddock, who also wrote and directed the piece, Waiting for Charlie has an understated charm to it that makes it impossible to not enjoy.
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One of main elements in the show is the friendship between Bobby and Joe, played by Niall Phillips.
It was truly warming to watch the care each character has for the other. Joe is worried for his friend but he tries to hide it lest he be seen as 'pitying'. This is played with clarity throughout Phillips’ performance.
He has a natural energy that leaps off the stage. He shares with us his characters’ passion for both the vegan lifestyle and loyalty to his friends, and delivers a successful and likeable performance.
The friendship between the two men bounced off the stage, engaging the audience immediately as it felt so real and natural - they really were just two mates chatting about vegan cheese and planning the next night out at their local karaoke bar. It was beautiful to watch.
The play is written brilliantly, with insight and spirit. It tackles the sorrow of loss and the extreme lengths some people go to to distract themselves perfectly, creating a truthfulness.
Maddock's everyman lead character felt like someone you would meet down the pub on a Friday night and was performed with a rawness and truth that was relatable and at times heart-breaking.
You truly come to care for him throughout the play. His gradual breakdown and the truth of his situation was discovered slowly throughout, so that when we reach the concluding scenes all you want for him is happiness and peace.
Strong performances are also given by both Alex Reynolds and Jennifer O'Neill who play a couple of teachers (/coke-heads), introduced to Bobby when he starts working with them and later scoring them their drugs.
They successfully match both Phillips and Maddock's on stage friendship with a friendship of their own, formed by online stalking, drug taking and secret keeping. O'Neill entertains with a witty and strong willed performance going toe to toe with Maddock throughout, creating a really interesting relationship.
Her performance is emotional and grounded and thoroughly well-rounded. Reynolds also holds her own and delivers an excellent performance as a whiny, self-centred and yet ultimately loyal and caring friend, someone you really don't want to like but can't help it. The two were very, very funny together.
The small performance space truly makes you feel as though you are a part of the scene and not just watching from outside. The dark theatre and simple staging enhanced the sense of 'realness' and added to the raw energy of the show. The small space felt like the show was private, which was nice and added to the personal touch the show seems to have.
Waiting for Charlie is a real, poignant and entertaining look into the lives of four individuals and their relationships with each other and the tough times in life.
The play comments on a variety of issues and is at times shocking but never loses its heart or feels like it's preaching, nor attempts to judge any of the characters for any of their decisions.
A truly excellent piece of writing and an enjoyable night out. A definite win for Phillips’ theatre company, Lonesome Schoolboy Productions.
You can find out more at www.lonesomeschoolboy.com or at http://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/waiting-for-charlie/