Standing in Lifts with Strangers – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review

Standing in Lifts with Strangers – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review
Review by Frank L.

April 25 – May 21, 2022

Written By Jennifer Laverty
Directed by Jeda de Brí
Featuring Jennifer Laverty and Nessa Matthews

This is the first play to emerge from Bewley’s Percolate Programme which chose seven writers to participate in a two-year programme “with a panel of artistic advisers with a variety of expertise”.  The play starts with Joanna (Nessa Matthews) in her bedroom at the end of the day of her sister’s funeral. She is exhausted. She thought everyone had left but no – one straggler Fiona (Jennifer Laverty) emerges from a bathroom. It was not Fiona’s intention to leave immediately because she did not want to hang around at the station; she wanted to chat and chat she did, even though Joanna had not a bull’s notion of who she was or how she knew her recently deceased sister Becca. Fiona is however armed with strong opinions and some off-beat notions which she delivers with a great deal of self-confidence and verve. Although Joanna makes it clear that she should leave,  Fiona finds reasons to stick around. As a result, their conversation develops and Joanna makes a few discoveries.

The set is Joanna’s bedroom with a substantial double bed with an adjoining bathroom. It creates the atmosphere for Joanna to show her exhaustion at the end of what has been a trying day. It is also an intimate space which permits Fiona to expound on her wide range of unconventional views. They do not coincide always with the formulaic phrases that are standard fare at a funeral. Laverty has fine comic timing and on more than one occasion has the audience in cahoots of laughter. She also executes a fine lipsynch performance to a record that she places on a turntable which adds to the nervous merriment. It all helps to break down Joanna’s gloom and to win her confidence. However, Fiona is not all fun and laughter as Joanna discovers. Laverty has the best of the lines but Matthews after a slightly shaky start settles into the part of Joanna and becomes an effective foil to the verbal jousts of Fiona.

Bewley’s Percolate Programme can be proud of its first offering to the public. It deserves to play to full houses and hopefully the remaining six writers equal or exceed what Laverty has achieved. It is well worth it to expend an hour at lunchtime to see this unlikely sequel to a day spent at a funeral.

Standing in Lifts with Strangers
Written by Jennifer Laverty
Directed by Jeda de Brí


Jo                                 Nessa Matthews
Fiona                           Jennifer Laverty

Creative Team:

Set and Costume          Pai Rathaya
Lighting design            Colm Maher
Stage Manager            Ciara Nolan
Photography                  Keith Jordan
Graphic Design           Gavin Doyle



Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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