Tony Teardrop

Written by Esther Wilson, produced and directed by Jen Heyes
Cut To The Chase Productions
21st March - 6th April 2013
St Luke's (Bombed-Out) Church

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Being usually accustomed to seeing theatre productions indoors and in the warmth, watching this open-air performance in the freezing cold inside the bombed-out St Luke's Church was definitely unique in my experience.

Written by Esther Wilson ('Unprotected', 'Ten Tiny Toes'), Tony Teardrop focuses on the struggle homeless people face, particularly if they are addicted to alcohol or mind altering substances, and the subsequent battle to basically keep their mind and body together.

The setting is highly appropriate and poignant because some local homeless people use it as a meeting place as well as somewhere to sleep (as best they can in inclement weather).

It has been said that the audience will gain some idea of what it's like to be out in the cold - in more ways than feeling chilled to the bone - but this is debatable given that warm blankets and hot drinks were available, plus they only had to endure the fridge-like conditions for no more than ninety minutes.

Hard drinking and verbose Tony Teardrop (Neil Bell) ('Dead Man's Shoes') is charismatic as the street philosopher, who expresses his anger and despair with existential and abstract views of the world. There is no one like Tony!

His main preoccupation, in the endless time he spends in the homeless shelter or St Luke's itself, is collecting, what he calls 'art treasures', basically recycled scraps of metal, including a pedal bike, which has seen much better days, perhaps like Tony himself, who is a father of three kids.

At one stage he goes topless in the harsh weather and screams out his despair at his loss of connection with the 'real world.'

A production one should endeavour to see and remember. Tickets are £10.

Mentioned in dispatches! Other cast members were Hollie Jay Bowes, Robert Schofield, Laura Campbell, Brian Dodd, Lisa Parry and Carl Cockram.

Tony Teardrop

Reviewed by Sue Hunter

I’d like to add a few comments about this wonderful play. As Colin explained, it is set in a temporary hostel for homeless people.

Although all the characters were people we would recognise, none of them were stereotypes. The characterisation was subtle and deep, while the plot kept me guessing – no clichés or predictable outcomes here.

Tony Teardrop was a non-conventional hero, a hero not just in the drama sense, but as a heroic human being. His understanding of peoples’ motivations and empathy for them went deeper than the street-wisdom of people living on the edge. In his handling of Fran’s half-hearted attempt to sell him sex he protected her rather than take advantage. Despite his assessment of Jan’s coldness and uptight ruthless streak, his psychological insight saw beneath her surface.

Despite being a pain in the arse at times, especially towards the staff, this was always softened by hilarious humour and philosophical outbursts, and besides bossing the other inmates he looked after them as well.

The making of his “Tuk Tuk” and his whole re-cycling project at first seemed bizarre and absurd, a “vehicle” for his imagination and creativity, but became, helped by Bob, a work of art.

Karen the Support Worker fitted her nickname, dubbed “Nazi Knickers” by Tony: she had a good heart, but was no do-gooder or saint.

The venue of the bombed-out church was most appropriate: indeed it was also a “character” in the play. And the freezing weather gave a short taste of what it feels like to be homeless.

The music by The Cubicle, used to punctuate scenes, was powerful, moving, and perfectly suited to the unfolding story.

Esther Wilson the writer has created a unique character and original story. This play needs to be performed again.

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