Waiting for Gandalf

This isn’t the gentle comedy romp through the Lord of the Rings that many may believe from the title. Presented by the Brighton based charity, Mankind, Waiting for Gandalf is a powerful performance about the burdens that some of us carry.

Waiting for Gandalf is one of those performances that lingers in your mind once you leave the room

We meet Kevin Brook, played by Chris Neville-Smith, as he crashes through the audience to set up his chair to be first in line for a book signing. Gandalf himself is coming to Brighton to sign copies of the new Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Movie Companion. He tells us he is a fanatic and is more than happy to wait all night to meet his idol.

Brook looks like the kind of guy you walk past every day and never turn your head. He is wearing a slightly ill-fitting shirt and suit jacket with jeans and trainers. He has thrown a waterproof jacket over himself and has a backpack fully loaded for his adventure. He is filled with an awkward enthusiasm as he rushes out his thoughts about the films and his experiences. His mind slows and relaxes as he sips at his beer and more details from his life begin to slip into conversation.

It is here that where the performance begins to shine. The minimalist set design of a solitary chair and cut-out of Gandalf forces the audience to never break contact with Brook and catch all the nuances he brings to the performance. It slowly dawns that this isn’t a happy-go-lucky Tolkien nerd. His family are distant and uncaring, and he struggles to form meaningful relationships with those around him. The sips of beer turn into mouthfuls and whispers become shouts.

Praise must be given to Writer Adrian Marks for using fantasy and fandom as a tool for exploring a character. It could have been very clumsy but instead is handled with grace. Kevin Brook feels like he is Samwise Gamgee with his foot at the edge of the shire and crestfallen Faramir being scorned by his father. All because it is sometimes a bit too much or never enough to just be Kevin Brook.

Waiting for Gandalf is one of those performances that lingers in your mind once you leave the room. It is a one man, one act play designed to raise awareness and does so wonderfully.

Reviews by Alex McCord

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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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Performances

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The Blurb

Meet Kevin Brook, self-confessed fanatic of all things 'Lord of the Rings'. On the eve before 'Gandalf' signs the official movie companion to 'The Two Towers', he sits outside Fenwicks, waiting. He talks about his life-long devotion, friends who don't understand him, family who never had time for him. But what's the real reason for his obsession with Tolkein? Why must he take his mind away from the harsh realities of life? An uncomfortable truth is about to be revealed. “Dark-as-hell” (Fringe Guru) ***** (Albie Media) **** (Broadway Baby)

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