Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review: Cycles by The Scullions Neoterics at the Alma Tavern Theatre

It’s a slow-burn start for Cycles, a play about cycles of life and the impact of generational trauma, playing at the Alma Tavern Theatre, until Monday 20 February.

The play, co-written between Luke Ashley-Tame, India Rodgers and Nicholas Downton-Cooper, is based on feature film ‘Cycles’ by Oscar Wenman-Hyde.

It makes no difference if you have not seen the original movie because this is a standalone piece.

The slightly sedate opening pace merely serves to deliver a cracking midsection, when every Mumsnet – Am I Being Unreasonable relationship drama possible – converges at the same time.

Jumping back and forth across the timelines of the three characters, we meet Sarah (Pollyanna Druce), an idealistic primary school teacher. She becomes involved in a somewhat mothering relationship with Barney (Luke Ashley-Tame).

Barney is a young man who has been impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences. He meets Sarah in a bar and whilst both of them seem to want similar things from life, neither of the pair have any idea what a functional adult relationship looks like. It’s not long until things start to go awry.

Lacking a male role model in his life, Barney attempts to play out his expected societal role by starting a family. But, he lacks the emotional maturity to deal with unexpected fertility difficulties with apparent shocking indifference. He fears he might fail his future child by not being able to love it

In turn, Barney has a strained relationship with his brother Jake (Nicholas Downton-Cooper). Again, it’s another unbalanced parent – child dynamic.

When the stress of things going wrong starts to build, Barney feels smothered and overwhelmed. He longs for independence and an escape, but finds these two things are unachievable until he grows with the support of the two people he needs most.

All three actors are present on stage throughout, with director Phoebe Mulcahy, perfectly merging the action, cutting between actors as required.

It’s quite fun to see Downton-Cooper spending plenty of time cheerfully and calmly painting his War Hammer Figures with great diligence as high drama erupts on the opposite side of the stage.

Pollyanna Druce beautifully handles highly sensitive material around miscarriage with compelling performance.

Despite the drama circling Luke Ashley-Tame, his pin-drop introspective monologues are gripping.

Cycles runs at exactly one hour with no interval and is on at the Alma Tavern Theatre again on Monday 20 February 2023.

Tickets for Monday’s performance are available from:

Featured Image: The Scullions Neoterics

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