Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review Tender Napalm by Misplaced Theatre

  • Review of Tender Napalm by Misplaced Theatre, which is on at the Alma Tavern Theatre this week

Philip Ridley’s 2011 play Tender Napalm, explodes with energy. It paints pictures with words. Poetic dialogue soaks scenes that shapeshifts through wild flights of fancy. Fantastical adventures spawn like Minecraft worlds. At times, they collide with a reality which is too painful to bear.

Only truly superb acting can pull off this play. The ability to bring an invisible world to life. Like a shared dream. A shared delusion. A defence mechanism.

Jack Bannell as Man and Nina Bright as Woman are the superb actors this play calls for. With a natural chemistry, they make for a compelling watch. Whether it’s Bannell fighting his way from the belly of sea serpent or an alien abduction encounter. Bright summoning monkeys you can almost see surround her. Defending her sea creature heritage.

Together with Ben Jenkin’s direction, this is a high quality production which take audiences on a wild ride.

There’s a ferocity in Ridley’s play. Some quite graphic sexual descriptions and violence. This is balanced with moments of tenderness and beauty, love running throughout.

The significance of the seemingly unconnected stories swirl together in a reverse chronological narrative. The final scene revealing the significance of the fantastical elements.

In the way The Babadook examined the manifestation of grief through horror, Ridley explores similar through an almost hallucinogenic fever dream.

Misplaced Theatre wisely keep the set simple, scaling back the stage to bare walls. Clever lighting enhances dramatic scenes by creating monsters and shadows licking across the walls like flames.

Theatre this stripped back relies solely on its actors to tell the story, keep the audience engaged. Jack Bannell and Nina Bright are utterly convincing, bringing the audience right into the tsunami with them. They make this a really thrilling watch.

Tender Napalm by Misplaced Theatre is at the Alma Tavern Theatre until Saturday 11 March 2023

The show runs at 1.5 hours and contains sexual language, threats of violence and themes of bereavement

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