Rock and a Hard Place

Meet Freddie Hammond (Simon de Cintra), a bank manager who wakes up to find the proverbial rock has become a reality - to be precise – a large boulder blocking his drive and preventing him from getting to a very important meeting. To make matters worse, his job pivots on its success and both his estranged wife and the man she ran off with are holding it.

It’s an interestingly literal take on a proverbial expression and the situation had the potential to be funny.

This is a one-man show, a tricky thing to pull off and though he had his rock on stage it just wasn’t enough to lean on. At first he shouts and swears and fumes and kicks the rock – which raises the shadow of a laugh. Then we listen to a series of one-way phone calls, more shouting and swearing with the kind of volume to rival the phone sketch from Trigger Happy TV. The sheer barrage of noise coming from the stage was hard to sit through and yet there were still a few people in the audience nodding off. Various jokes are resurrected again and again within his many phone calls – yes his address is Number One Bell End, and yes he has heard that joke before. Perhaps by the repetition of this dubious comic morsel we are supposed to feel the protagonist’s frustration. It felt like the writers had been harshly rationed. It’s not enough that the first line of Freddie’s address is Number One Bell End - the second is Pratt’s Bottom and he says this standing on the rock and pushing his posterior into the air.

Throughout the show, de Cintra loses more and more clothes. He starts off in full businessman’s garb and slowly works his way down to a white vest and some rather unforgiving undies. Is this supposed to express his collapse? There is the suggestion at one point that the character is having some sort of break-down. But this is brushed over and the performance does not have the conviction to convey this fully or gain compassion from the audience.

This seems to be a partially autobiographical work, as before founding a theatre company and taking to the stage Simon de Cintra worked at American Express. This might explain the empathy the performance had - despite the overt mocking - for its sexist, angry and slightly pathetic bank manager. The performance rolls to an end with Freddie coming to terms with his rock, talking to it and then sending it to the nasty man who stole his quiet, long-suffering wife, aren’t we all glad, the end.

Having said all this, a few people did appear to enjoy it more than myself. It’s an interestingly literal take on a proverbial expression and the situation had the potential to be funny.

Reviews by Amber Gregory

Brighton Spiegeltent


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The Blurb

7:30 am. Fred Hammond, director of a small savings bank, has to rush to a crucial meeting with his boss. But a big stone is blocking his drive. Where did it come from? How to react? Freddie works himself through temper tantrums and biting sarcasm down to the fundamental questions of his life. Internationally acclaimed play ("Witty & original!" (Westfalen Blat), "A wonderful play!" (Themen der Zeit), "A feast!" (Théâtre sans Frontières)) by AM & CM Bamberger, with S De Cintra, adapted/directed by JG Lewis.