The play 4 Stages ( by BC Allen) at the Bread and Roses Theatre is directed by Natasha Kathi-Chandra and centres around 3 characters, Alex (Andre Skeete), Ben (Brett Allen) and Cat ( Natasha Redhead) on their monthly games night. It’s presented in four parts which represent four separate nights spread throughout one particular calendar year. Ben and Alex interview each other over the four nights about how and where they grew up and as the nights go on there are some startling revelations which lead to some very frank discussions along the way.
‘ Two best friends Ben and Alex, who grew up together, now in their 40’s, meet every last Sunday of the month for ‘Games Night’. They are from different backrounds but are as close and tight as brothers. Ben has recently had a child with his partner Cat.’
This theatre is extremely intimate and is set with seats on opposite sides with the ‘set’ in the middle dressed as a room in Ben and Cat’s home which works perfectly as they use the exit door as their door to the rest of the ‘house’. With the space being small it enhances the feeling of being a ‘fly on the wall’ overlooking events unfolding in these characters lives. Each night is cleverly separated in a way that you know the story is moving on and yet works perfectly in the small space they have with regarding the set.
I want this to be a no spoiler review as I think that adds to the shocking revelation in the third part of the play where the whole thing takes on a very different feel. Up until then it really does feel like three old friends who are completely comfortable with each other as family would be. There’s typical lads banter between the two longstanding friends and that creates laugh out loud moments throughout. Ben comes up with the idea of recording an interview style chat to discuss where and how they grew up highlighting the fact they are from very different backrounds and yet are still as close as family.
This essentially, in this day and age, could be anyone’s story which is why when the play takes a shocking turn it hits home hard. This is definitely an emotional ride. The fact that they have been talking about how they grew up, their family backrounds ( which touches on racism) and also the strength of their friendship means that you are completely invested in their lives by the time the sucker punch comes!
It then centres around the extremely frank and tough discussions that anyone in this position must have to have with the people closest to them when in this situation. It doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff and creates a thought provoking feeling of ‘what if’. It’s well portrayed and naturally acted and completely draws you in to their story, which is why it becomes a tough watch the further it goes on.
This play is only running until 26th Oct at the Bread and Roses Pub Theatre in Clapham Manor St, SW4.
I would urge you if you are a fan of real life and hard hitting drama to get tickets. It has a running time of 1 Hr 15 with no interval and tickets are £12 / £10 concessions.
DIRECTOR: Natasha Kathi-Chandra
PRODUCED BY: Brett Allen, Andrew Braidford, Patricia Allen
LIGHTING DESIGN & PRODUCTION MANAGER: Glenford Barnes
SET DESIGN: Gareth Johnson
ASST DIRECTOR: Amber Sinclair-Case