Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review: Right of Way at The Wardrobe Theatre Bristol

An exceptionally beautiful piece of theatre about Disability, caring, grief and walking the South West Coast Path

Right of Way was at The Wardrobe Theatre on 28 March 2024

Right of Way is a profoundly beautiful piece of theatre which serves not just as a captivating performance, but also as a raw and compelling insight into Disability.

From the moment the audience arrives at the venue, it is plainly evident that the production company has gone to great lengths to make this not only a truly accessible piece of theatre, but one that centres the authentic voice which has created it.

The writing is moving and honest, bringing together themes of disability, family bonds, loss, grief and what it means to be a carer. This is all merged together through music, movement, storytelling and poetry. It moves through the journey of grief, intertwined with a shared family history of walking. A multi-generational love of the sea. It is both one woman’s walk along the South West Coast Path and a metaphor for grief and the unexpected places that chronic pain and disability can take you to.

Part way through the lights go up. Beth Bowden addresses the audience directly. She’s angry. We should all be angry. It’s about the disproportionate way Covid 19 affected Disabled people. The isolation. Deaths. Lives written off. Do not resuscitate. There’s the betrayal of Disabled people by the Conservative government.

Six in every ten people who died of Covid were Disabled people. Lives not considered economically worthy by the Tory right.

In her anger, she decries the Kafkaesque systems of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Trying to claim Personal Independence Payment when you have an invisible Disability. Trying to claim Carers Allowance.

To see all of it unfold on stage is powerful. It is Bowden’s personal story. But, in the telling of it, she takes not just herself and her family with her, she takes every Disabled person and every carer with her as well.

As the journey approaches the end it is at times tinged with sadness. But moving through the stages of grief, the final leg of her journey brings her into contact with fields of butterflies connecting her with lost relatives and thoughts of her own future. It is a bittersweet and uplifting ending.

The set is stunning. A coastline of sand marks out the performance space. Chalk lines are the right of ways. Daffodils sprout from small mountains of soil. Crystal clear containers hold water, pebbles lining the bottom of its tiny sea. Bags of salt form the warm safe space of an amniotic sac.

Right of Way is possibly the most beautiful piece of theatre you can see. With its dream like quality, sensory set and exceptional use of multimedia to generate a sense of being on the coast, this is an wonderful piece of work that takes you to isolated and lonely places, yet brings you hope and a sense of togetherness. All of this is done in a safe space, providing exploration and emotion around such difficult subjects in a way that only theatre facilitate.

For more information about Right of Way, visit:

Cast and Creatives
Writer, director, video design and performer – Beth Bowden
Creative Producer – Susannah Bramwell
Production Designer – Layla Bradbeer
Associate Artist and Access Support Coordinator – Nina Fidderman
Movement Consultant – Jennifer Fletcher
Technical Stage Manager – Erin Green
Composer and Sound Designer – Joseff Harris
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