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Review of Flash Festival: Benson Theatre Company - Even Geniuses Struggle at the Looking Glass Theatre

The noticeable difference with this years Flash over last year is the large increase in solo shows. Even Geniuses Struggle was my sixth show, and it was the fourth solo (there are more to come). There are obvious advantages and disadvantages of this, you clearly miss the interaction of other players which brings energy to proceedings. However with a solo you can concentrate absolute on your interest or skills with no interference. Therefore already I had seen a storytelling style, a children's entertainment interest and a heavily personal experience angle.

Abigail Benson brings her interest in music, and more importantly her prolific skill on the violin to the show. Not that she overplays the skill however, we only hear her play properly the once during her piece. This is predominantly an acting performance telling the sad tale of a musicians battle with onset Multiple Sclerosis and its true to say that Abigail takes us through the complete gamut of emotions, from the highs of first playing to the public (including another lovely home video) and a remembered standing ovation, right down to that first shuddering moment of the disease showing its signs and the eventual sad climax. There is enough humour to get us through with the Sam Mitchell nurse arrival and the important advice of never being judgemental being a particular highlight. This is however a sad piece of theatre, but there is nothing wrong with that. You have to be sad to fully appreciate moments of shear joy said some wise man no doubt.

The set is simple yet totally functional with a bed and a makeshift kitchen sideboard. While the tech offers clever interaction with off set characters, all perfectly timed. There is again a slight bane that will keep rearing its head, slightly too loud music and also in this case I feel which also runs on too long through the speech. There was of course however one piece of music that didn't outstay its welcome and that is the wonderful live performance from Abigail herself. It was indeed perfect and in the tiny area of the Looking Glass we were in, a very intimate performance.


The Flash Festival 2015 runs between 18th-23rd May, 2015 at four venues across the town. Details can be found at http://ftfevents.wix.com/flashtheatre2015, while tickets can be booked via the Royal & Derngate. Details at: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Other/FlashFestival15

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