Small Acts: Future Pub

Going to the pub is a British rite of passage, but increasingly pubs are going out of business. Those that have remained often don’t fare much better: becoming over commercialised, or over gentrified, or simply struggling to operate in a post-Covid world. Cornwall based theatre company Small Acts want to welcome you into The Fleapit for Future Pub. The staging is an impressive use of the space, and somehow it really does feel authentically pub-like, with the bar complete with Harvey’s beer pump, ready to pour audience members a small serving of the Sussex tipple.

Charming and warm

Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti are charming and warm hosts, creating a pub-like sense of camaraderie amongst strangers. The performance moves through poetry, song, and even a pub quiz, which keeps it entertaining throughout. Also interspersed are video interviews with Cornish pub-goers, recounting reasons why their local is so special to them: friendships formed, fun-filled Fridays - even the smell of stale beer gets some love.

Saturday’s performance also had BSL interpreter Lesley on hand: although there to provide interpretation, she was a lovely addition to the show, even for those without need for aid. Her signing of Boris Johnson’s speech worked particularly well.

Future Pub is good fun, but it misses the mark on tackling some of the reasons why pubs might be in decline. An increasing population of teetollers (for health, religious, and other reasons), some pubs (and locals) creating a hostile environment for diverse groups, a rise in alternative entertainment options, increasing prices and pressure on pay, long working hours, the struggle to get staff in the hospitality trade, pubs owned by large breweries and corporations, are just a few of the pressures on the pub industry. It would have been interesting to explore some of these reasons further, and try to imagine how a future pub could counteract some of these societal changes. After all, it isn’t just post-Covid cleaning regimes and ordering on an app that’s turning off the pub going public. Instead it became the celebration of a singular perspective about a certain type of pub: ones with dark corners housing sticky tables, dart boards, and open mic slots. And there’s nothing wrong with that: these pubs and the cultures they’ve created are worthy of celebration, it just feels as though they didn’t fully tackle the premise they set out to discuss.

Still, it’s a warm hearted and well intentioned show that will welcome any pub devotees with open arms. Better still, this passion and appreciation proves that it’s not quite last orders for British pubs yet.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Elanor Parker

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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 £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

A journey through Time, Space, Beer and Community, brewed in Cornwall. If you could time travel to the pub of the future what would you like to see? Robot bar staff, instant nostalgia or a new social Inn-vention? Future Pub draws on interviews with brewers, pub-goers and campaigners to explore the enduring role of pubs in our lives at a time when the future of so many hangs in the balance. Conjuring the territories, atmospheres and eccentricities of a traditional local this new show incorporates original writing, film, music, games and a time machine to transport audiences to the pub of the future! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may win a prize and you’ll never take pubs for granted again! Small Acts (Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti) are artists and performance makers based in Cornwall, UK. They create live performances and artworks that invite local, national and international audiences to investigate their own relationships with the places in which they live, work and play.

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