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5* Review of One Minute at The Barn Theatre
The Barn Theatre is a fabulous new space in Cirencester. They have put the community at the heart of their plans and www.glos.info were lucky enough to have a backstage tour, dinner in the restaurant and to see the latest production One Minute.
The Barn Theatre is located just off the A417 on the edge of Cirencester, which makes it very easy to access from Cheltenham, Gloucester, Swindon and further afield. The adjacent Beeches car park has free parking after 6pm and is only £2 for the day.
So, head across the road from the car park, to the main entrance of the theatre, where you will enter the spacious bar area, which has a large roof light and a good range of drinks available.
Turn left from the bar area to find the modern and spacious 200 seater theatre space. The auditorium has an arched roof to echo the World War 2 Nissan hut, that was previously there. The seats are comfortable and there is lots of leg room. Towards the back the seating is tiered and no one is far from the stage. The state of the art lighting, projection and sound equipment really came into its own during the performance of One Minute.
Under the stage is a hydraulic lift which will be used in future performances and space for a 30 person orchestra. One imagines that the sound in the theatre would be fantastic if a full orchestra were down there.
Turn right from the bar area to head toward the Teatro bar and restaurant for a pre-dinner meal.
The restaurant serves food from 5-8pm Wednesday to Saturday and 5-7.30pm on show-night Tuesdays. Both the bar and restaurant are open to the public, with a pianist playing at the grand piano 9-11pm on Friday and Saturdays.
There is a large comfortable seating area with a fire pit outside Teatro and a marquee space available to hire for weddings and functions. The catering is all completed in house.
The meal we had was crusted cod fillet on a bed of lentils and samphire, which was tasty and satisfying. The puddings were stand-out with the chocolate mousse being the show stopper - see below!
The Barn Theatre has other areas and we were treated to a look round the rehearsal room, which is mirrored down one side and has ample room for the full curtaining which will be put into position when performances are carried out in the studio space. The dressing rooms are large and rumour has it they are better than some in West End theatres. We can not confirm that as we have never been into any West End theatre dressing rooms (but we have loitered at plenty of Stage Doors to meet actors!)
The Barn Theatre is keen to be an integral part of the community and as such they run The Barn Academy, which is a stage school for young people aged 4 -21 and a summer school for Cirencester's young actors. There are also meeting and commercial rooms available in the adjacent Ingleside House.
Anyway, on to the play...
One Minute was written by Simon Stephens, who also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time play, and was directed by Iwan Lewis, in his directorial debut. It is a fabulously thought-provoking production, which makes full use of the state of the art technology in the theatre.
There is extensive use of video projection to enhance the performance, with all areas of the stage being used for film projection.
The story starts with the disappearance of a girl, who you never see, but is certainly alluded to in the video footage and the story. There develops a tale of five people who are directly or indirectly affected by the disappearance and how their lives pan out of the coming hours, days, weeks and months.
In fact, the play is not about the girl but the relationships between the people left behind, which become increasingly intertwined and stressed. There is a real feeling of urban claustrophobia created by the staging and acting.
In 90 minutes, with no interval, the play moves along at a pace and the story develops between the characters and by the end, you are invested in their outcomes.
Serious praise must be given to PJ McEvoy for the stage set design, which physically very simple with the real challenge being in the projection elements. There were very few props used and the only furniture was a counter, cupboard and a couple of stools, which were used in several different ways and locations. The videos were projected onto the screens that seemed initially to represent the tunnel of the London Tube and then reflected the areas of London or venues where the characters were.
The most fascinating use of the projection was when each of the five characters performed a monologue, during which the experience they were discussing was projected on the screens behind them. The use of colour versus black/white and sound was used in a compelling way to highlight aspects of the journey.
* * * * * One Minute is a compelling, modern play, which makes full use of the contemporary space and equipment in The Barn Theatre and the whole dinner and theatre experience is one to be recommended highly.
The Barn Theatre is the place to share top-class regional theatre and performing arts education.
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