REVIEW: Tell Me Anything, New Wolsey Theatre, Pulse Festival ✭✭✭

Tell Me Anything at Pulse Festival

Photo: Alex Brenner

Tell Me Anything
New Wolsey Theatre (Pulse Festival)
2 June 2017
3 Stars
Pulse Festival Information

One of the unique features of the Wolsey’s Pulse Festival is the Suitcase Prize.  Now in its fifth year, the day asks theatre makers to think in an environmentally and economically sustainable way, to create a piece that can travel on public transport with a very low carbon footprint. The day consists of ten twenty minute excerpts of shows at different stages of development, and the winner is awarded £1000 and the chance to perform it at the next Pulse.

Tell Me Anything at Pulse Festival

Photo: Alex Brenner

The 2016 winner was Tell Me Anything by On The Run, a beautiful, tender piece written and performed by Daniel Ralfe. When he was 15, his then girlfriend had an eating disorder, and the biographical play focuses on his responses, his attempts to deal with her and the illness, and raises many questions- asked of the men in the audience- about men and their relationship to feelings and gender roles. If we could be as dolphins are and offer warmth, guidance and gentle nudging, perhaps we can help ourselves and others. Very simply staged, with David sometimes strapping an inflatable dolphin to his back, carefully negotiating his way around tubes that he struggles to not knock over, the honesty of the piece is astonishing and a privilege to experience. For a young man to take on the responsibility of asking his girlfriend to tell him anything is daunting to say the least. At times I felt the audience participation could have been developed more, and the gentleness of the piece sometimes negates anger- it’s very effective when his calmness breaks down. But the company has created a fragile, delicate, confessional piece that held the audience with gentle guidance.

It was the culmination of a wonderful day of intriguing and mouth watering pieces. Congratulations to this year’s winner James McDermott for his locally based narrative Rubber Ring, and a huge shout out to Not Now Collective for their developing piece Dadman: The Bath-time Warrior, Wonder Fools The Coolidge Effect and George Orange’s First Lady- pieces I would love to see in full!

The Pulse Festival continues until June 10th.

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