Open

Taking place in the greatest of British institutions — a chip shop — on election night, Open is a devised work by the student-run Nottingham New Theatre. It asks what it means to be British today, and offers responses from the average citizen down the street.

A well-made and enjoyable performance.

The opening sequence interlaces snippets of verbatim interviews with rhythmic spoken word. Music supports this to create a sense of energy. We’re hooked into the performance from the beginning. Each of the five actors inhabits several different characters with simple changes of accent or costume, sharing their opinions about the problems of today. All of the performers are excellent, and the character of the street busker who is trying to get enough change to buy some chips is particularly sympathetic, especially when he shares his experience of homelessness.

There’s power in these words because they come from a place of truth and lived experience. The ensemble demonstrates an excellent grasp of verbatim and clearly have conducted the research for this piece without imposing their own values and judgements on those they interviewed. However, the form is both blessing and curse, as it doesn’t enable the work to make a clear statement.

Unlike verbatim pieces such as The Laramie Project, there is no shared event being described by the characters in this play, which would allow for a narrative structure. Instead, it is a sometimes nebulous series of monologues and moments sharing opinions. We meet characters briefly, gain an insight into their opinions, and then they disappear. Some we sympathise with, some we disagree with, some we hear ourselves in.

The fish and chip shop as framing device is clever, offering up a range of clientele with viewpoints and backgrounds as diverse as their orders and presenting an intelligent snapshot of contemporary Britain. The repeated motif of transactions between customers and the chippy staff keeps us connected to the sense of place, although this settles into a slightly predictable structural pattern around the midpoint of the play.

The ideas served up are often familiar — the types of conversations many of us have had over a pint about democracy, the NHS, unemployment, immigration and racism — so the show needs something further to elevate it beyond those pub conversations. Perhaps if the ending used a similar device to the opening, allowing some commentary against the verbatim text, it would be more satisfying. Despite this, it is a well-made and enjoyable performance.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

theSpace @ Venue45

Love and Information by Caryl Churchill

★★★★
C venues - C nova

Cartography

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

The Beanfield

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

The Hampstead Murder Mystery!

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Marching for Necie

★★
Paradise in The Vault

Women of the Mourning Fields

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Sharp devised theatre peering through the cracks in modern Britain. A brand new original piece set in a takeaway on election night. This play brims with bizarre characters, plucked right from the Great British public, spinning a tale of nostalgic optimism and greasy fingers. We have cobbled together stories from across Britain in an attempt to find the threads of commonality often hidden from view. If you love Russell Brand, hate Russell Brand, watch Question Time, watch Gogglebox, vote UKIP, vote Green, love this country or don’t recognise it anymore, this one’s for you.

Most Popular See More

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets