THEATRE REVIEW: Baggage and S.P.A.C.E at Casa

Bags and S.P.A.C.E flyer
  1. Baggage & S.P.A.C.E.
    CASA, Hope Street, Liverpool
    January 25, 2018
    Writer/Director: Bev Clark
    Producers: Hand in Hand Theatre
    Cast: Teri Bennett, Elisa Crowley, Susan Reeve, Geraldine Moloney Judge
    Running Time: 2 hours
    RATING: ****

Two thought provoking, insightful and, above all, beautifully crafted plays in one evening at The Casa and all in aid of The Hope Project providing support for the city’s homeless. Could anyone ask for anything more?

Bev Clark’s double whammy of a show – Baggage followed by S.P.A.C.E – provides everything a good night at the theatre should, with a cast of four performing with authority and grace at every turn.

Baggage starts with Sandy, a tired housewife who’s missed her bus on the way back from town post-Christmas shopping. Having dropped off, presumably from the stress of it all, Sandy wakes to find homeless Annie rifling through her handbag. What follows is a sharing of secrets, a re-examination of life’s priorities and what happiness, sadness and grief really are.

A delightfully worked observation piece, Baggage is a joy to watch and, it might be said, a perfect piece for the BBC Radio 4 afternoon play slot.

Of course, for it to work as well as it did here at The Casa on Hope Street, using the same actors would be a plus. As the somewhat spoiled Sandy, Susan Reeve delivers all the right nuances, self-obsession and tactlessness such a character demands, only for us to watch her slowly soften wonderfully as her own sad tale develops. A tough act to carry off, but one Reeve manages expertly.

Playing Annie is Geraldine Moloney Judge, who’s rich talent is used to the full. All too often the homeless are invisible ghosts, almost non-people. In Moloney Judge’s hands however, Annie becomes a three dimensional entity that has pride and determination at the forefront.

Annie’s tale may be desperately sad, but thanks to the sassy spice contained within this wonderful script, she becomes very real very quickly, which is as much down to the ability of the actor as it is the words on the page.

S.P.A.C.E is a whole different game. Crazy posesses a cluttered existence. Not just literally with all the stuff she hoards,  mentally too.

Crazy has had a tough hand dealt to her in life’s poker game and, understandably, is less than confident.

Sanity comes in to try help her sort things out and, thanks to more than a few moments of wit and wisdom, makes Crazy see life is for living.

This is a wake up call of a play, with each character benefitting from top performances.

Teri Bennett is Crazy and is an absolute pleasure to see perform. Indeed, there are moments when she is a reminder of Eithne Brown in her pomp, such is the classiness of her timing and delivery.

Elisa Crowley is her perfect foil. With her ‘posh’ no nonsense approach coming across as being slightly domineering and, well, fun less, hers is the spice to the sugar of Bennett so making each compliment each other perfectly.

Community theatre is an integral and vital part of the arts scene. Without it, many shows, actors and creatives would flounder.

Hand in Hand and, particularly the writing talent of Bev Clark, should be rightly proud of their achievements here..

Top notch stuff indeed.

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