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27 November 2014
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April 2003
New theatre group's nightmare challenge
Antonia Reed-Felstead
Antonia Reed-Felstead played with intensity in Bedbound.
Our reviewer emerges from a debut production, gasping for air.
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Bedbound, by Enda Walsh
March 27-29
Burton Taylor Theatre

By Miriam Quick

The first production from the newly-formed Short Sleeve Theatre proved to be a harrowing experience.

Enda Walsh's Bedbound, which was premiered in 2000, was a challenging choice of project, and yet one suited to the intimate environment of the BT.

Only two nameless characters exist in Bedbound's claustrophobic nightmare - the father and the daughter. Both inhabit a grubby single bed in a room hemmed in by white walls.

Both are crippled: the daughter (Antonia Reed-Felstead) paralysed by childhood polio and quite literally bedbound, the father (Daniel Naddafy) ruined by a fanatical thirst for success in the world of furniture retail that ultimately boils over into psychosis.

This unbearably uncomfortable scenario is exposed through a relentless stream of narrative shared between father and daughter that jumps abruptly across time, place and subject.

Flashbacks fill in their backgrounds while crude, grotesque masks represent the other characters, conveying the unreality of everything outside the bed.

Because very little "happens", as such, in this play, its impact is dependent on the skill of the actors in keeping the audience's attention.

Naddafy and Reed-Felstead pulled this off with varying degrees of success.

Sometimes the characters' pain was poignantly and convincingly expressed.

At other points, the intended intensity seemed to misfire and the actors lapsed into rather meaningless stage-school ostentation.

Bedbound is a hostile, dense and emotionally tiring piece, requiring real theatrical mettle from the actors if its potentially confusing cut-and-paste style narrative is to strike home.

Although the ambition of these actors and co-directors should be applauded, the demands of the play seemed at times too much for them.

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