Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review: To Watch a Man Eat at the Alma Tavern Bristol

Bristol theatre company lives up to its audacious reputation with new show

Full Frontal promised some audacious theatre with their new production of To Watch a Man Eat – a promise on which they totally delivered.

The hotly anticipated show had sold out a month in advance of the performances. The company’s reputation for bold, unwavering performance had preceded them.

To Watch a Man Eat, tells the story of three people, narrated by Firefighter Mickey – played to great comic effect by George Pack.

He is deceptively complex as a character. Despite appearing to be happier with the simpler things in life, trifle is not something he takes for granted due to the dangerous nature of his job. This comes together brilliantly when the storylines begin to layer up towards the end.

Through narration by Mickey and monologue, we hear the story of Andrew and Grace.

The cocky and confident Andrew has a well paid yet mundane job. He leaves early each day to avoid the unseemly rush hour commute on public transport. He leaves 15 minutes after his boss at the end of the day. It’s an endless repeating cycle but one he repeats unquestioningly.

This is all carefully curated by his partner, the calculating and manipulative Melissa – played to wonderful effect by Lily Walker.

Melissa is a Slade School of Art graduate who went on to specialise in interior design. She has fallen on her feet in the relationship and will continue to orchestrate it to protect her own interests. Her dark and nightmarish backstory drip feeds throughout, building into a claustrophobic anticipation.

Andrew – played by Keir Churchill – finds his cocky confidence gradually falling away in the wake of bereavement. It shakes the foundations of his life, leaving him unravelling and questioning everything. When he finally comes to make the life changes he needs it threatens Melissa’s lifestyle. This upsets her fragile instability with shocking results.

With sharp satirical observations on class, sex and relationships, Sadie Pearson’s deliciously dark writing provoked audience members into physically cringing on several occasions.

Full Frontal Theatre doesn’t fear taking risks with its work, pushing stories past points where others fear to tread. It makes for gripping, sometimes grotesque and often funny theatre.

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