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Review of Sell-By-Date by Marbleglass Theatre at Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Having successfully avoided death in the preceding 159 days since I last had the pleasure of seeing Marbleglass Theatre's Sell-By-Date. I settled once again with my plastic cup, straw and sweet (you had to be there), to watch this dark, funny and emotional little show.

Watching again it was easy to see why this was the pick of the 2014 Flash Festival, in my top three with The Show Must Go On and Taciturn. A careful balance between humour and emotional impact, this is a fine piece of original work with winning performances.

The star is and was originally Joseph Derrington and had the biggest impact on first viewing. However on second sight, it became more the sum of its parts. Derrington had the best remembered scenes, be it from the classic and still tremendously rude stand-up routine through to the title song (which I enjoyed much more the second time), all of which on one view could send you home thinking that he was the star. However second time around is the charm for the other actors, you can see how important Marcus Churchill, Sophie Murray and Ashley Cook are to the whole piece.

Churchill splendidly comic when needed, while also having the ultimate key emotional role at the end (albeit not on stage). Murray likewise provides the key part in that now (for me) classic puppetry scene. On first seeing this, it was a marvel of seeing the puppetry work, second time I could spend that moment watching the other half of the scene with Murray grabbing and hoping and follow the story into that emotion spewing monologue. Cook meanwhile is at his best in the play when he isn't saying anything (no criticism) and this is important as there are many scenes where he has no lines whatsoever. All of them, while maybe uncomfortable to watch, work well in putting over the key things they are trying to say, loss, loneliness and sorrow.

There were a few scenes that I enjoyed second time more. The travel through the seasons grabbed me more in the humour stakes and remains one of the cleverer scenes of the play, despite my complete lack of mentioning it first time around. The final scene for me had a greater emotional impact than the first time (maybe living the character development more on a second viewing?), and I saw this scene resonated with a few in the audience highly. At mention of the audience, although I realise its difficult to get people to these kind of shows. It is a great disappointment at how few were in attendance. This show should have and deserved a greater number in the seats.

So once again it was a pleasure to see this play, no matter how awkward you felt laughing sometimes at the near (over) the knuckle jokes, the emotional reveals of each of these scenes paid off tremendously. There are a few issues that would be best ironed out if this was to be performed again (re-filming some of the video scenes in particular on a less windy day, even if the Racecourse is gone for ever, is one), but this play with some more refining has much potential. Raise the (huge amount of) money and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe. I think they might like it.

Performance viewed: Matinee (5pm) on 18th October, 2014
Details of Marbleglass can be found here: http://www.marbleglasstheatre.co.uk/
The venue of the Looking Glass Theatre also has a website at: http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/

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