Brilliant acting in nourishing play at Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre

Arcade, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry. On until tomorrow (Saturday). Box office: 024 7615 8340.

Friday, 15th June 2012, 1:00 pm

CHRIS O’Connell’s skills as writer and director in his latest Shop Front ‘play’, he calls it a ‘visit’, offers up a teasing, tantalizing glimpse of one human story.

It weaves its theme, within the Coventry Mysteries festival of peace and reconciliation, and as the story unfolds, the link between our two protagonists becomes horrifically clear.

Martin Jenks (John Flitcroft) has murdered Katherine’s best friend Deborah in a fit of pique after being rejected. Katherine’s (Katy Stephens) clear horror at seeing him again after 20 odd years is obvious. The Shop Front Theatre is set out as a café, which Katherine owns and runs none too efficiently and Jenksy is now in a position to actively proffer support with the proceeds of his mother’s house sale.

Katherine’s dilemma – to forgive or not – is obvious and she takes a few faltering steps in the process, explaining as she does why it is hard to do.

Writing at its best tells a story in which the drama is integral to the tale. The actors tackled difficult roles brilliantly, even moving the action outside in one scene that the audience watch wordlessly. We are also treated to a brief history of Coventry from 1980 onwards, which was a treat.

The Coventry Mysteries further theme of Urban Transformation is also amply played out in the transformation of a former chip shop into the unique Shop Front Theatre and just as nourishing as it always was.

Jane Howard