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Platform 4 Presents Claustrophobia

The Stage Review October 2004
CLAUSTROPHOBIA

Boxes feature strongly in Platform 4's production, previewing prior to a spring tour next year. Writer Anna Maria Murphy uses the boxes of semi-surrealist Joseph Cornell as the starting point for her quirky film noir plot about run-down hotels and lonely guests who venture within. Set designer Simon Plumridge has mirrored the theme in his dusty, down-at-heel hotel full of cramped box rooms and a basement stacked floor to ceiling with shoeboxes in which hotel owner Terence collects bits left behind by past guests. It is a highly visual piece, strong on atmosphere, which Catherine Church directs with precision and invention, extracting well-drawn performances from her cast of three.

Chris Talman is quietly sinister as Terence, sloping around the stage in subservient fashion before exploding into sudden violence. Verity Hewlett is excellent at suggesting the bruised vulnerability of his emotionally starved daughter Tilly, locked away in her boxroom.Like a butterfly begging to be singed, she flutters around the flame of flamboyant actress Beatty. Toni Midlane makes her a fruity-voiced has-been, a faded bird of paradise clinging onto the memories of past stage triumphs. The atmospheric soundtrack, by composer Jules Bushell, contributes hugely - witty in places and heightening the tension in others. There is humour in the noisy eating of a dry piece of toast, and danger too as the piece slips into Hitchcock territory. There are still rough edges to this potential gem, but there is time for polishing between now and the spring tour.

- Lesley Bates

Salisbury Journal Review: September 30 2004
CLAUSTROPHOBIA Salberg Studio

Claustrophobia doesn't give much away as far as titles go. Being a Platform 4 production however, it was bound to be quirky, well-acted and highly entertaining. Their latest production currently showing in the Salberg Studio at Salsibury Playhouse, didn't disappoint. Set in the Hotel Eden - a run-down, colourless place full of junk and old posters of film stars - the play centres around three characters. Terence is the introverted owner and father of Tilly, his innocent teenage daughter who has never ventured out of the hotel and pines for the mother she never knew. Suddenly a guest arrives, the flamboyant actress Beatty, and their lives are never the same again. Beatty helps to bring both father and daughter out of their shells, but Terence still can't communicate with his daughter and Tilly feels increasingly isolated. By the end what happens to the three characters next is anyones guess, but you're left hoping that Tilly can find her mother and start afresh. Chris Talman, Verity Hewlett and Toni Midlane were excellent as Terence, Tilly and Beatty, and although the story was zany, the audience seemed captivated and there was a hearty round of applause.

- Joanna Snell

STUFF of NIGHTMARES in HAUNTING HOSTELRY

An evocative, sinister glimpse into repression, fantasy and nightmare, Platform 4’s new production Claustrophobia, enthralled from the very beginning.
Set in the decaying Hotel Eden, the play concerns the fortunes of past-her- best vamp and actress, Beatty as she stops off one lonely night at the decidedly uninviting hostelry and commits herself to the care of the sinister Terence and his half mad daughter, Tilly.

Performed at The Arc Theatre in Trowbridge on Friday the play is a delight to behold – not least because of the fascinating and highly effective set, a cross section of the hotel with rooms stacked on top of each other, from the garret where Tilly sleeps in a trunk to the basement where Terence obsessively collects shells, gloves and dozens of other bits and pieces in carefully labelled shoeboxes.
Andrea Sadler was a treat as the boozy actress carrying around her suitcases of dresses and memories, and Verity Hewlett excelled as the fey little girl who longed to escape from the dust and despair of her hotel life.

Chris Talman brought a decidedly creepy edge to his depiction of the hotelier who locks up his daughter and whose wife has mysteriously disappeared.
Terence and Beatty brought a real sensual intensity to the play when they took on romantic roles from Beatty’s plays and acted out passions entirely missing from their own disappointing lives.

The sound design and composition of the piece were an important part of the creation of an enclosed atmosphere, thanks to the strange and beautiful music and sounds put together by Jules Bushell.

Haunting, eerie and with a fine eye to detail in the performance, set and costume, Claustrophobia was a surreal treat. Terrific.

Sarah Singleton, The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald 10 March 2005

CLAUSTROPHOBIA presented by PLATFORM 4 at LIGHTHOUSE, POOLE’S CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

The wind howls and the sign for the dilapidated Hotel Eden creaks desolately. The Hotel is owned by an obsessional model maker and staffed by his repressed daughter. Quite what happened to the mother – who left behind a fabulous dress in a hat box – is never revealed. And there are boxes everywhere.

The arrival of a self-delusional actress, full of fantasises about creating her own one woman show, is the catalyst that reawakens the father’s passions and literally opens doors for the daughter. Laden with references to Hitchcock and featuring a terrific role-play based around Tennessee Williams, the play is full of tension, humour and delightfully witty coordination.

This splendidly layered piece boasts a wonderfully detailed set and is perfectly suited to the intimate studio space at Lighthouse. Three talented actors give perfectly weighted performances and the sound effects are truly atmospheric.

John Billington, Southampton Echo 23 April 2005

 


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