Bed Seven at the Tristan Bates Theatre online
Inspired by true events, Bed Seven is the heart-warming tale of a nurse, Patricia, and her unlikely friendship with the man in bed seven, Gerald. Simon de Cintra captures a real sweetness in his script that is reflected in this quaint, stylistic production.
The writer achieves a real feel for the 1950s with his smart, cheeky dialogue, making class distinctions prevalent without being too overt or stereotypical. Anything predictable about the characters is countered by their basis on real people. The play confirms a romanticism that we often seek from the past, without making it unattainable or overly cliché.
The stylistic, small-scale staging makes for a charming, heart-warming experience – if at times a little uninspiring. Patricia and Gerald’s relationship is built through a chain of short dialogues separated by light piano melodies. This becomes a little repetitive, until a refreshing rearrangement of the set allows the actors to use the space more and inject more energy into the performance.
Basing the piece around one hospital bed, although allowing for experimental ways to play with setting and time transitions, does limit the dynamism of the show. However, it does work as a sweet, intimate setting for a brewing relationship. In general, the production uses simplicity well. The minimal cast and set suits the tale and makes for a delicate, intimate performance.
The sudden shift in the dynamic between the characters is a show highlight. As they get closer and more is at stake, the conversations become livelier, more impassioned, allowing the actors to really come into their own. Nothing too demanding is asked of the cast, but they contribute generously to the delicacy and warmth of the play. Wigmore’s Bristol accent is a little grating, but she puts in a sincere effort to pull it off for a full 50 minutes, which is no easy feat, especially considering how much dialogue she has.
With its gentle humour and nostalgic ending, this production is like a comforting cup of tea: a short, sweet pick-me-up. A good old-fashioned love story, it would not be out of place on BBC daytime, perfect for a rainy day. So, put the kettle on and enjoy…
Photo: Kerry Mattey