Empty Beds and Moments – a first night review by Stephen Vowles

Julia Cranney’s double bill – Moments and then Empty Beds, both written by her – really shows off her talent for writing concise and thought-provoking conversational dialogue. In Moments, she has the two characters Ava and Daniel telling each other stories and, over a period of days, they get to know each other as they travel on the same bus each day. Cranney also chooses to act in both plays and this gives you the sense of her protecting herself, like a mother guarding her child; she know what is best and how the scenes should be played. She is a wonderful storyteller; her characters have to deal with shyness and nerves and these emotions are examined beautifully

This is a very good plot device and actually adds to the tension as the first play of the double bill plays out. Simon Mattacks plays Daniel in a very controlled and almost elegant fashion. His character is a product of his generation when society expected you to behave in a certain way, and as the play draws to its end both characters realise that there is more to life than a mundane nine to five existence, which can turn one into a robot.

The second play, Empty Beds, is the story of three girls travelling on a train to see Michael in hospital, a guy they all know for different reasons. Here, Cranney has constructed a fascinating look at the world of women where battle lines are drawn and how each of them are focused enough and are almost forced to deal with recriminations and consequences. These girls have a congenial link and all are self assured. Jo, played by Debbie Brannan, and Emily, played by Carys Wright, have a very fluid style to their acting and via very precise direction by Kate Treadwell, who also directed Moments, you get a profound look at what is it like to be a young woman in today’s society. Two plays that present a fresh look at city life. Worth a view. SV


Empty Beds and Moments runs until Saturday (17 Feb) at the Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington N1 1RL. Book via the box office on 0333 666 3366 or 

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