These Two Small Plays Are Punching Well Above Their Weight

Moments / Empty Beds, Hope Theatre ★★★★☆

Hannah Foulds
By Hannah Foulds Last edited 16 months ago

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These Two Small Plays Are Punching Well Above Their Weight Moments / Empty Beds, Hope Theatre 4
Credit: Nick Reed

Moments and Empty Beds are two plays happening back-to-back at the tiny Hope Theatre in Islington, but the similarities end there. While Moments is a slow, heart-wrenching, almost dream-like imagining of two isolated lost souls in London, Empty Beds is an energetic, chaotic and emotionally-draining tale of three Scouse sisters reuniting on a delayed train, bringing years of family tension to a head.

Moments is a two-hander that starts with two lonely characters narrating each other’s solitary daily routines — a 25 year old woman from the north getting lost in the anonymity of the city, and a 56 year old man starting his life again following a failed marriage. As sorry as both character’s lives appear, we’re warmed by the idea that — through their mutual narration beyond the fourth wall — they have some sort of vested interest in each other. This builds a climax — will the characters meet, or won’t they?

Credit: Nick Reed

Empty Beds is the story of three Liverpudlian sisters reuniting on a train to visit their mentally ill brother in hospital. On the surface it’s about three sisters facing-off after years of rising guilt and resentment, but under all this is the reassuring and subtle sentiment that their love is unconditional — from wiping dirt off each other’s foreheads while bickering to defending each other against grouchy neighbouring passengers.

Both plays — directed by Kate Treadell — are beautifully simple and full of believable, likeable characters that you’ll probably feel like you’ve met before. Empty Beds’ naff ending lets it down slightly, but both plays — currently in a tiny room above a pub — could easily hold their own in front of a larger London audience.

Moments / Empty Beds,  Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington,  N1 1RL. Until 17 February 2018.

Last Updated 07 February 2018