Oh Gumtree

Oh What A Lovely War (musical), Oh Calcutta (nude theatre) – but what is Oh Gumtree? The title says nothing of the play behind the poster really but deserves further investigation. Writer, director and actor Dominique Armstrong from Blue Suit Theatre Company knows all the answers.

As the characters develop over the time we hear more of their background but are given no insight as to why they are all together on this cold New Year’s Eve in 1962.

She is a drama teacher from Staffordshire and has taken some young ladies from her class to the biggest arts festival in the world to showcase a new original piece of drama. In that sense this embraces the very essence of fringe theatre. The fact that they occupy a tiny dark space with around 47 seats with a five-minute ‘get-in’ time confirms the romance of this great festival.

Dominique opens the play in character as a domestic cleaner commenting on her chores as the audience arrives, but she is soon joined by the other girls one by one, all with a story to tell of how they got here and why. As the characters develop over the time we hear more of their background but are given no insight as to why they are all together on this cold New Year’s Eve in 1962.

With the writer/director on stage at all times it cannot be easy to evaluate and amend performance. All other actors are students embarking on a career and together for this time only before they disperse to university in September. While the signs of inexperience in live acting are obvious, the play has no great challenges for them and it allows them to develop with maturity.

One girl hears voices in her head and tells jokes to blank them out; there is a loud assertive girl who scorns the first. Then we meet the timid girl brought up with authority and as the others interact with her and each other, we share this moment with them. Of course, there is a twist at the end, but my lips are sealed.

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Performances

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The Blurb

On a bitterly cold New Year's Eve, five people unexpectedly find themselves together. Each has their own personal story to tell as they reveal their unique journeys, but what has brought them side by side? A thought-provoking and witty play which will take you through their journey and skillfully intertwine the threads before tying them up. Oh Gumtree cleverly fuses innovative storytelling with mysterious clues to tell the intriguing story of these five people.

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