• Amy Toledano

4 Stages presented by Old Skool Collective

What is it?

Written by B C Allen, this is a touching story, celebrating the importance of friendship, memories and those you love.

What is it all about?

Ben (Brett Allen) and Alex (Andre Skeete), best friends since they were kids, are having their usual games night on a seemingly ordinary evening in. Ben's parter Cat (Natasha Redhead) is in attendance too, and enjoying winning at their game of Scrabble.

The trio are happy, a lovely relaxed intimacy between them, that suggestions a long and special friendship. And as Cat and Ben's new baby daughter sleeps in the next room, the group begin to reflect on their own parents and upbringing.

As the evening progresses, Ben asks Alex, who is also a journalist, if he would be willing to record an interview with him, so Sarah will always something to have of her Dad, as he didn't know his own father and wants to make she always has something of him with her at all times. Alex agrees and so begins the four stages of this interview, and a warm and emotional exploration of life in West London, growing up lonely and the ties we make with others that are more important than anything else.

How did it make me feel?

A story pulsing with love, the characters are so very familiar, and so wonderfully portrayed, you are with them, rooting for them from the moment the piece begins.

The writing is a beautiful homage to male relationships, and the importance of celebrating these friendships, as well as challenging the ideals of toxic masculinity.

The relationship between Ben and Cat is absolutely stunning, with Natasha Redhead absolutely stealing the show in Stage Three of the piece.

It is obvious from the get go that very good direction is at play here. Natasha Kathi-Chandra brings her skill to the table, setting up a world that is natural, sensitive and a beautiful representation of home.

The playlist is also excellent, and wonderfully paints an image of contemporary life, with particular touches that make it feel like you are peering into the lives of friends.

Where was it playing?

The Bread and Roses Clapham is the perfect home for this gorgeous piece of theatre. Set up in traverse, we are able to slot right in to the living room of this group of friends, which adds to the brilliance of the overall production.

Anything else?

Beautiful, heartfelt and incredibly real, an absolutely gem of a show. It will force you to be stretched to your emotional limit in the best way possible.

Amy x

4 Stages is playing at The Bread and Roses Theatre Clapham until the 26th October 2019.

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