Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Bench review at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘engages right up to the last’

Paul Sneddon and Keir McAllister in The Bench, Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Edinburgh Paul Sneddon and Keir McAllister in The Bench, Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Luke McAllister
by -

Tightly wound and shot through with an utterly surprising melancholy, Keir McAllister’s tale of two men feuding over their right to relax and find peace on a public park bench engages right up until the last.

McAllister performs this exercise in passive-aggressive control with fellow comedian Paul Sneddon, so there is little surprise that the changes of pace and focus can be extremely funny – to the point where some are in danger of being gags, rather than serving the plot.

Fortunately director Jojo Sutherland helps both McAllister and Sneddon steer their characters away from using such moments for purely comic effect, although their comic timing is not dimmed. She also helps them to bring out characters who are far more complex than their petty nigglings would at first indicate.

McAllister convinces as the office worker who is losing the plot, although earlier enlargement of the character would help the piece. Sneddon has the kind of face that screams “funny” but here uses it well for the opposite effect in creating the bitterness of his character.

A stage that is barely bigger than the bench being fought over doesn’t help the performance, but ultimately it transcends such limitations and deserves a larger forum.


We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Cleverly revealed tale of the inner turmoil that lies behind a curmudgeonly exterior