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Seven-year-old play All Clear predicted pandemic, says Sittingbourne director Paul Slaughter


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What if something really bad happened and you had to stay indoors, seal up the windows and wait for the All Clear?

It sounds just like the coronavirus pandemic but the play All Clear was written by Eugene Stickland more than seven years ago.

Anja Cilia and Valise Marin rehearse All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Anja Cilia and Valise Marin rehearse All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Lisa Gibbons plays Maddie the wife in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Lisa Gibbons plays Maddie the wife in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne

Now Sittingbourne-based not-for-profit acting group The SubGrey Theatre Company, which gives breaks to unknown actors and technicians, is taking it on tour.

After an outing to Faversham's Arden Theatre two weeks ago it returns to Sittingbourne's Avenue Theatre tonight (Friday) and Saturday where it was put together.

Producer and director Paul Slaughter admitted: "Lockdown nearly killed us off but despite no government support whatsoever we have managed to survive and are about rise up, like a Phoenix, from the flames of the pandemic.

"We have based our revived operations at The Avenue which has been incredible in its belief and support of our project and inaugural tour. Somehow we have overcome every obstacle put in our way so All Clear will be seen by the public."

Paul, 60, the former lead singer and guitarist of the group SubGrey, added: "This production is more important today than ever. It has a spookily remarkable social relevance and has almost been a prediction of the last 18 months, despite being in the pipeline for seven years."

Paul Slaughter is the producer and director behind All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Paul Slaughter is the producer and director behind All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Peter Garner and Anja Cilia rehearse All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Peter Garner and Anja Cilia rehearse All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Peter Garner plays the dad Delaney in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Peter Garner plays the dad Delaney in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne

There have, however, been hiccoughs along the way with the show at Broadstairs' Sarah Thorne Theatre having to be abandoned because of additional Covid restrictions made it unviable and The Sinden Theatre at Tenterden struggling to sell tickets.

Paul said: "After speaking to several theatres in Kent I am finding that audiences are proving to be reluctant and nervous about returning to live theatre. But for me, it's not just about the ticket sales, it's about the public seeing a very important play and enjoying a real evening's entertainment. I want to make it clear that is is all clear to see All Clear."

Delaney Ford (Peter Garner) and his family are trapped in their home after a devastating nationwide event. They are all waiting for the all clear which will allow them to re-emerge into the outside world.

The doors and windows are sealed tight with plastic sheeting and duct tape. There is no water, electricity, TV or phones. Nothing works. There is no way of communicating with the authorities or any other human being. All they can see through the living-room window is a shroud of mysterious orange fog.

While Delaney sits at his desk trying to write a book, his bitter wife Maddie (Lisa Gibbons) is desperate to leave. Billie (Josi Tydeman), their brat eldest daughter, wants her mobile phone and boyfriend Simon.

Anja Cilia plays the younger daughter Bobby in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Anja Cilia plays the younger daughter Bobby in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Anja Cilia at the read-through of All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Anja Cilia at the read-through of All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Vasile Marin plays Braun the German architect in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne
Vasile Marin plays Braun the German architect in All Clear which will be performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne

Bobby (Anja Cilia), the couple's younger teenage daughter, has somehow been mentally changed by the event. And then there's the arrival of sinister German architect Braun (Vasile Marin) who has returned after a 20-year absence.

Tickets are £10 from 01795 471140.

* Hear Paul Slaughter and the cast talk about All Clear here.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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