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Power review at Bike Shed Theatre Exeter

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Peopling the stage with seven diverse characters, William Stanton’s complex farce gives four actors ample scope for imaginative development. A skeletal framework delineates twin offices at Intelligent Wellbeing Solutions, said to be formerly a department of the Department of Work and Pensions, now a mutual. Commendably aiming to speak to the moment, Stanton’s story reveals stifling bureaucratic obfuscation as a young man asks for a review of his mother’s medication. An appointment is kept, misunderstandings proliferate and files are lost. A power struggle ensues and tables are turned.

Patrick Romer impresses in dual roles – as pedantic and precise Fink, and in contrast the militaristic Block, a man on a short fuse. As Dredge, catalyst for the action, Solomon Lennox capably develops the character. Confidently treading a fine line between normality and obsession, he generates an air of menace while maintaining the uncertainty of his intentions.

Confidences are gained in quieter moments with office worker Elise played by Charlotte Worthing, who is also the sharp-suited office disciplinarian Rolt, top of the office hierarchy and cynically said to be responsible for promotions and special payments. As Barge (also Munge), an ineffectual woman led by intuition, Audrey Schoellhammer completes the cast.

Slow to ignite, this is a play of two distinct halves. A complex story is unravelled while deeper motives are suspected. Once the tale’s erratic and bizarre characters are established, director Martin Harvey ensures the action gathers pace. Although seldom achieving the momentum of farce, scenes are generally well-focused with some energetic stylised action.

Production Information

Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter, May 28-June 16

William Stanton
Martin Harvey
Forestage Theatre
Solomon Lennox, Charlotte Worthing, Patrick Romer, Audrey Schoellhammer
Running time
2hrs 10mins

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