Bristol Theatre News

Review: A Life In The Theatre at The Spielman Theatre

Misplaced Theatre’s charming production played at The Spielman Theatre this weekend

Misplaced Theatre brought David Mamet’s A Life In The Theatre, to The Spielman Theatre this weekend. The Bristol company have been on a roll with a series of thrilling and exciting productions over the last 18 months.

This season’s production of A Life In The Theatre, was a gently entertaining show. It pushed all the right comedy buttons as well as being infused with the wistful passage of time.

The play follows two actors – both male – in a repertory company through a series of vignettes both on and backstage. Robert is a veteran actor approaching the end of an illustrious career. John is a young, up and coming next-but-one generation actor.

Backstage conversation, costume malfunctions, missed cues, criticism and common ground between the pair provide the humour. As each scene smoothly transitions, the power dynamic between the men shifts. The master and apprentice – Facebook meets TikTok. A Life In The Theatre also serves as a metaphor for life, aging and mortality.

David Mamet’s play at times felt heavily weighted in its moment of repertory theatre, which is less of a thing now. In an era of stunt casting and creatives cultivating a finely crafted presence on social media platforms, as a piece of writing, it might struggle to find new audiences.

But this in some ways further serves to emphasise the passing of time in an actor’s career. How age and relevance come into play around middle age, no matter how esteemed you might have been in early life. At some point, it’s fine and necessary to admire and surrender to new generations.

The weight of that was truly felt in one beautiful scene between Ciaran Corsar as Robert and Ed Bradshaw as John.

Whilst John, buoyed by glowing reviews and a film role, rehearses alone on the empty stage, Robert, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, lingers in the darkness watching. John isn’t putting up with his fellow actor’s manipulation anymore, standing his ground with polite professionalism.

Corsar and Bradshaw retained the lightness required for the humour whilst also welcoming in the right tinge of anguish.

Retrospecting on the interpretation, there is probably more scope for highlighting that generational difference between Robert and John to make it more relevant for younger audiences. Something that could be extended into a connected social media campaign from both perspectives.

However, as a quieter study on life in the theatre, fused with dynamics of fun, humour and notes of pathos, it was another satisfying production from Misplaced.

For more information about Misplace Theatre:

Cast and Creatives
Ciaran Corsar as Robert
Edmund Bradshaw as John
Directed by Amy Tanner
Lighting and Sound by Esther Warr
Featured Image from Jordan Davies
YouTube Shorts

Bristol Theatre News at Backstage Bristol – contact us through email or social media