top of page

HAVE YOUR          SAY.....

Whether you agree or disagree with our critics, we welcome  your comments and will try to include them at the end of the review. 

Please use our contact form 

Stratford's One Act Play Fest Up and Running

Stratford's One Act Play Festival runs from 9 - 11 May at The Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Review by Ann Evans

Stratford's One Act Play Festival got underway last night (9 May 2024) with the first of three short plays. There was quite a buzz in the theatre with friends meeting up to enjoy an evening of brand-new works.

First up and with simply two white chairs against a black backdrop, was Small Talk from the Phoenix Players, written by Roger Gowland who also acted in this 2-man play alongside Dave Molloy.

In Small Talk we meet two elderly gents who meet up on a park bench and pass the time making small talk. Being British they start by chatting about the weather but quickly move on to cover a host of topics including nostalgia, being decisive, sport, politics, religion, sex and eventually coming full circle and getting back to the weather. The writer intended to show how even old friends, especially men, find it difficult to reveal their innermost thoughts and anxieties. As the writer intended, the pair reverted back to humour as a form of self-defence rather than discussing anything in depth. But from the audience's point of view, we loved the humour. The script was clever, very witty and delightfully funny. It may have been small talk, but it got some big laughs.


After a short interval it was Ulysses Syndrome by the Essex Players, written and directed by Charles Essex, and starring Jeanette Herbert, Georgina Monk and Adam Schumacher. Set in a hospital clinic, we witness the agony of poor Mrs Avison who is desperately trying to get to the bottom of why she's had diarrhoea for the last six months. She's being passed from pillar to post as one specialist after another refers her to a different department for more tests. Two years on and still not cured, Mrs Avison - accompanied by her long-suffering daughter is given a clean bill of health – except for the diarrhoea! Excellent performances from Adam Schumacher who plays the many different specialists, each with a unique personality – to the amusement of the audience, with just the change of a wig, or a different jacket - but each one more outrageous than the last. With the medical theme very true to life this was another clever and humorous play.


After the second short interval it was Suffer the Little Children also by the Essex Players, written and directed by Charles Essex and starring Julia Finlay, Simon Maris, Julia Essex, Esther Taylor and Charles Essex. A very different theme to this play which looks at the tragic case of baby George who is rushed into hospital after he stops breathing. Although his life is saved, doctors find he has several fractures to his arm, ribs and bleeding on the brain. It all points to one of the parents harming him. The play takes place in court as the distraught parents' barrister fights the authorities who have taken the couple's children into care. Meanwhile their marriage falls apart as each blames the other for baby George's injuries. A gripping storyline - and a satisfactory conclusion when we finally learn the truth.

Three excellent plays, and I'm looking forward to seeing three more on Friday evening.

Friday tickets are sold out but still a few for Saturday available:


bottom of page