A Play by Paul Kelly

John Howarth and Ruth Evans in the Paul Kelly play FAKE at The Chester Literature Festival.

P R E S S   R E L E A S E




Alternative theatre proved a great success in Chester  when Hoole playwright Paul Kelly’s latest drama premiered in a pub as part of the city’s literature festival.  Fake, directed by Peter Mulley, a former lecturer in performing arts at West Cheshire College and presented in conjunction with the Dividers Theatre Company at the Bull and Stirrup, Northgate Street, played to packed audiences over its three day run which included evening and matinee sell-outs.

Shaun Best writes: Lasting a mere 45 minutes and set in a jeweller’s shop, the tightly written, one-set drama focused on four characters whose individual misfortunes seemed to have switched by play’s end. Dennis, played by John Howarth whose credits include Hollyoaks, and Victoria (Ruth Evans) run a jewellery shop. His hard-nosed approach to life alienates people but deep down he is also in denial about a personal tragedy relating to his son, something never addressed in the play but serving to fuel speculation amongst the audience.
Customer Leanne’s (Barbara Jemmett) pregnancy is overshadowed by her partner David's (Cassian Wheeler) business troubles. This leads to a powerful, well executed exchange of emotions between Dennis and David over the pawning of Leanne's engagement ring. The line, "What do you want in life?" uttered by Dennis makes the audience work while keeping them guessing as to which chapter of his life David will decide to save. With the diamond ring being used as a metaphor for life, David finally rises above Dennis' taunts and gamesmanship and walks out with Leanne to prove that he doesn't need to sell an object to save his life.
The end sequence of Victoria pleading with Dennis to come to terms with the loss of his business - and son - draws comparisons with the famous Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman, when Willy Loman wrongfully thought he had lost everything and tragically perishes at the end. Fortunately for Dennis, Victoria's words finally hit home and the marriage is saved as the curtain comes down.

The pub setting proved to be advantageous with everyone congregating downstairs afterwards to raise a glass to Chester’s alternative theatre, a great little drama in a great little venue.

Review submitted by Shaun Best