Review of The Middle Bit by Edward Rapley at Bristol Old Vic

Thursday 3rd until Friday 5th December @ Bristol Old Vic, Bristol

‘Have you ever felt like you can’t be bothered?’ asks Bristol based performer Ed Rapley at the beginning of his one-man show, The Middle Bit. He continues to open his show with similar questions that directly address the audience as they scan through their own brains identifying times when they have felt something similar.

Theatrically he is naked. With an empty space and minimal props, Rapley is able to really engage with his audience quite personally as he successfully blends stand-up comedy with role-play. It is the sex scene which unwraps quite humorously and reels in the biggest laughs from his excited crowd as he harps back to his own memories using repetition and imagery. A chair replaces the girl he recollects and Rapley bravely delivers a sex scene to be proud of.

His stage presence is both warm and charming and his ability to successfully exercise his acting muscles by moving in and out of different characters is entertaining. One particularly is the international charm of Hugo who is both his friend and enemy. He is everything Rapley wishes he could be and by performing him I guess there is a kind of solace in that. By using theatre as therapy, Rapley can truly bond with his audience and his comic timing keeps him away from any self-pitying moans his depressing agenda might trip up on.

The Middle Bit is, as any exorcism should be, quick and satisfying (a bit like the chair scene). Rapley sets out in an attempt to extinguish his fiery demons an adventure into the ghouls of his own mind set and as the performance closes, the demons might not be gone but they are a little less in control of him as they were before. How do we know this? Well he was bothered to write the play and he continued to be bothered to perform it.

A witty insight into the traumas of the individual, The Middle Bit is the second part of a self-help trilogy. Keep your pearls peeled for 10 Ways To Die On Stage and Who Knows Where (he will go next).

Kayleigh Cassidy

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