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Review: All Clear at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, takes no prisoners


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If the future is orange then I don’t think we want it.

That is the message in All Clear, a play written seven years ago but only just touring the UK thanks to the persistence of producer and director Paul ‘PD’ Slaughter.

Paul Slaughter is the producer and director behind All Clear
Paul Slaughter is the producer and director behind All Clear
Anja Cilia plays Bobby the youngest daughter who becomes infected by a mysterious orange cloud in All Clear
Anja Cilia plays Bobby the youngest daughter who becomes infected by a mysterious orange cloud in All Clear

He stumbled on this dark tale of a family trapped indoors by the sudden arrival of a sinister orange cloud by accident and was determined to bring it to the stage. It has taken him a while, thanks mainly to the coronavirus pandemic which has strangled the world.

But thank heavens he stuck to his guns. It’s a gripping yarn which takes no prisoners and the cast he has assembled is top notch. But be warned, this is for 16s and over. There are rude words and adult themes which will make all but the toughest feel a little uneasy.

It’s all the more remarkable because it was put together by Sittingbourne-based not-for-profit acting group The SubGrey Theatre Company which gives breaks to unknown actors and technicians.

After making its UK debut at Faversham’s Arden Theatre two weeks ago it returned home to Sittingbourne’s Avenue Theatre on Friday and Saturday where this version was created.

Slaughter, 60, the former lead singer and guitarist of the group SubGrey, admitted: “Lockdown nearly killed us off but despite no government support whatsoever we have managed to survive and are rising like a Phoenix from the flames of the pandemic. Somehow we have overcome every obstacle put in our way so All Clear will be seen by the public.”

Lisa Gibbons plays Maddie the wife in All Clear
Lisa Gibbons plays Maddie the wife in All Clear
Peter Garner plays the dad Delaney Ford in All Clear
Peter Garner plays the dad Delaney Ford in All Clear
Josi Tydeman plays eldest daughter Billie in All Clear
Josi Tydeman plays eldest daughter Billie in All Clear

The play, by Eugene Stickland, is probably more important today than ever with its eerie prediction of the past 18 months.

The Ford family is led by defeated dad Delaney (Peter Garner) and furiously fed-up wife Maddie (Lisa Gibbons) with teenage girls Billie (Josi Tydeman) and Bobby (Anja Cilia). They are trapped inside, doors and windows sealed tight by yards of duct tape, following the arrival of the sinister orange mist.

You can cut the tension with the knife as Maddie hurls abuse at her husband and announces she is going to leave him. I’m not sure if Lisa Gibbons is married in real-life but if she is, I feel sorry for her husband. I squirmed as she yelled at Delaney. Luckily, Mrs Nurden was not with me otherwise it might have given her ideas.

To make matters worse, Bobby was caught in the fog attack and can now only repeat the word ‘orange’ over and over again.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, her mum’s former lover Braun, a German architect played by Romanian Vasile Marin, has also ended up in the house and appears to be Bobby’s real dad.

It's a sad tale of stale love but comic one-liners still mange to make you laugh.

If you missed it at Sittingbourne you can catch it again at Faversham's Arden Theatre (01795 534542) this Saturday (Oct 2) and Sunday (Oct 3) and then it goes to the GlassBox Theatre on the Gillingham campus of MidKent College (01634 383388) on Thursday, October 7 and Friday, October 8.

Vasile Marin plays Braun the German architect in All Clear
Vasile Marin plays Braun the German architect in All Clear
Anja Cilia and Vasile Marin rehearse All Clear
Anja Cilia and Vasile Marin rehearse All Clear

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