Bristol Theatre News

Review: Peacock at The Alma Tavern Theatre Bristol

It’s a real pleasure to watch a piece of theatre which from the moment you walk into the auditorium and see the set screams that it’s going to be brilliant.

Peacock, by Greedy Pig Theatre Company, currently on at the Alma Tavern Theatre in Clifton is one of those shows. In fact, it’s so good I’m already calling it for my favorite piece of theatre for 2023.

The play suits the intimate auditorium which really thrusts you into the action on stage. Despite being fringe theatre, this is a high production value show. It has clearly been through proper development, thoughtfully cast and with shrewd direction by Lex Kaby.

With Peacock, writer Douglas Murdoch has created a wonderful universe. It’s a bit like Miranda for Gen Z. The beautifully written characters are ones you actually care about and that it is set in a shop instantly lends itself to a six-part comedy drama with potential spin-off series. I’d love to see a sequel.

Violet, Seamus and Tyrell are sales assistants selling crystals in a shop which also offers customers some proper shifty clairvoyant sessions. Rocks glow in a rainbow formation on geometric shelves. A large circular table centre stage for readings also serves as the figurative kitchen table for the drama.

Whilst the marketing for the show centres the story on Seamus, a bi-sexual man who wants to experiment with make-up, this is actually a strong ensemble piece.

Seamus – played by Ben Armitage – is a gentle soul. One of themes in the show is about his desire to wear make-up without it being perceived as a Big Thing. If Seamus had been into the alternative scene in the nineties, the show would have lasted about five minutes. As it is, we are in strange times. LGBT safety and men wearing make-up has come a long way since then, but in recent years, the make-up has suddenly become taboo again.

Tyrell – played by Kofi Dennis – is the big-energy aspiring drag queen and ‘Clairvoyant’ who feels a connection spark with Seamus. Kofi brings a huge amount of stage presence to Tyrell, which is a lovely contrast with Ben Armitage’s easygoing character.

Violet – played by Alexandra Wollacott – clearly loves her friends dearly. As well as playing matchmaker to Seamus and Tyrell, her well-meaning meddling ways do tend to cause chaos.

Wishing to do something more rewarding with her life she joins the parish council, with predictably hilarious results.

Throughout the performance, Wollacott strongly reminded me of friends I have in South Bristol, delivering a legitimately funny yet authentic character. And, it’s brilliant to hear proper Bristolian accents on the stage.

Toby Mitchell – as Noah the taciturn customer – brings laughs with his low-key apparent indifference towards crystals and clairvoyants despite his repeat custom. Mitchell delivers a cleverly crafted performance, almost stealing the show before the end in a scene bonding over make-up.

In the build up towards the glorious up-beat ending, despite for the most part being a comedy, there is a strong message about men’s mental health. It’s a thought provoking moment handled in a sensitive way without overt sentimentality. It highlights the positive impact we can have on each others lives in their darkest moment yet in the simplest of ways without us realising.

Peacock is fabulous. It’s a highly entertaining piece of theatre and somehow makes the world seem that much better by the time the curtain comes down.

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