Chop Me Up Or Let Me Go at the Bread And Roses Theatre in Clapham

You have truly made it in show biz if you have been abducted by a mega fan: Tom Reynolds’ radical admirer is the gun-equipped, wide-eyed epidemiologist Astrid Barton (Ciara Murphy) who has obsessively watched every piece of video footage of her favourite actor. In a room decorated with signed film posters and photographs, he is finally all hers, secured by door codes. Famous fictional, violent abductors as described in the Hannibal Lector films or Stephen King’s Misery mean nothing to her – Tom is not in them. And so, there is little common ground for their “relationship” to thrive..

After qualifying as a doctor, Astrid dedicated her life to viruses, vaccinations and finally to her idol Tom (played by Alastair Coughlan). While providing him with a mattress on the floor, she has been yearning for a couple’s normal day-to-day life for years: Shared meals, birthday celebrations, violin serenades and giggly never-have-I-ever confessions.

For high-flying actor Tom (my bet is that his character is based on Robert Pattinson) this is a mad nightmare in handcuffs, with a decorated bucket for emergencies as the main sidekick. While weeks pass by in this intimate play – mostly set between four windowless walls – time for Tom is only measured in failed escape attempts. His stalker’s hope that he might, maybe, develop Stockholm syndrome one day, is a long journey of obsession, mistrust and forgiveness.

No live music tonight at the ground floor stage but the venue welcomes new artists

This school night friendly 50 minutes play by Lesley Ann Albiston is rather a comedy than a thriller – and a Monday evening is ideal for the one-act format, especially when you rely on rather unreliable public transport (staged on the well-established pub theatre space upstairs at the Bread & Roses, you are within a short walking distance to Clapham High Street Overground station). Set in the not so far away year 2025, it offers a twist or two on the need for survival too good to share here. Small spoiler though: The current pandemic will not be over in three years’ time – this play is not sci-fi. With its 1990s party anthems as its soundtrack, I make an inner note for looking for a Chop Me Up Or Let Me Go playlist.

The Bread & Roses pub has outdoor space in front and behind the building

**** out of 5 stars

Written by Leslie Ann Albiston, played until 23 February 2022.

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