Bob & Judy – Theatre Upstairs – Review by Audrey Devereux
Fast Intent, company in residence 2015 at Theatre Upstairs, present their new play, ‘Bob & Judy’, written by Gerard Adlum and based on a story devised by the company. Two comparative strangers from the same town are thrown together on the last night on earth-so what would you do?
Bob, a delivery man for ‘Science World’, delivers an unexpected and unwelcome birthday gift, to Judy, sitting in a dishevelled garden. The gift, it transpires, is a telescope, apt, as this will be the most cataclysmic night in earth’s history. As the story and the night unfold each character gradually reveals more of themselves as they star-gaze, gravitating towards each other as the rest of the world spins into chaos with the sudden appearance and disappearance of a comet ’10 times the size of the sun’. A black hole has appeared on the edge of the solar system and the end of the world is nigh as an Event Horizon approaches.
Thankfully the play doesn’t stray into the easy cliché of sex or drugs or booze, or any combo of the same, instead Bob and Judy talk about their lives, their regrets, things they loved, dinosaur socks and constellations as they fall a little bit in love, but not too much, because really, what’s the point? There is dry, wry comedy in their interactions, Bob, the nerdy delivery man with a tragic secret and Judy the pragmatic, grieving daughter of a mum lost to dementia. Gerard Adlum gives a gentle, measured performance as Bob, a perfect foil for Nessa Matthews edgy, nervous Judy, who suffers from mysterious panic attacks. Sarah Finlay gives tight direction to the piece, in a sparse but pretty set, designed by Katie Foley, with sound and lighting by Dylan Tonge Jones and Eoghan Carrick respectively.
Running at just over an hour long, the play is, however, over-written in parts: it should have ended with the wonderful moment where they finally play Bob’s story game while lying looking up at the sky, and the play is underwritten in others: why is Judy so very spikey? Do they fully realise the end of the world is coming? It also begins with what turns out to be not part of the play but an irritating, over-long introduction to a fire announcement while one of the actors yoga-breathes onstage.
That said, it is unusual and refreshing to see a ‘science-fiction play’ as my pal called it, although ‘Bob & Judy’ is more than that: part love-story, part apocalyptic-science fiction fantasy, with poignant touches of magical realism in its staging, this is a brave little piece of theatre, addressing all the big questions with the simple answer ‘we are a speck on a speck on a speck’.
BOB & JUDY – A new play written by Gerard Adlum
Based on a story devised by the company.
28 JULY – 08 AUGUST 2015
Gerard Adlum / BOB
Nessa Matthews / JUDY
Creative Team –
Gerard Adlum / WRITER
Sarah Finlay / DIRECTOR
Ian Toner / DRAMATURG
Katie Foley / SET DESIGN
Eoghan Carrick / LIGHTING DESIGN
Ste Murray / PHOTOGRAPHY & MARKETING DESIGN