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Review of Flash Festival: Stand Out Theatre - The Presenter at the Looking Glass Theatre

Ryan Manning's solo performance Flash innocently titled The Presenter is no light hearted show featuring a Titchmarsh/Schofield-esque host and any granny unexpectedly turning up would soon be spitting her false teeth out as the play turns the air bluer than her hair.

What it is however is a dazzlingly believable play about one man, Kieran, and his battle with an insane alter ego, Aaron. This whole performance was made the more amazing and encompassing by the fact that it is presented in the area off the main room at the Looking Glass. A single row of chairs around the four sides makes it a totally intimate experience where every member of the audience is in that single shattered room strewn with clothes, drink bottles and when we take our seats the whacked out body of The Presenter.

We are slowly and completely brought into this world through the strains of the complete version of Marilyn Manson's Tainted Love. Its a bold move to play the entire tune with nothing happening, and indeed a period after, however it works as is drifts us into this broken realm. The eventual shattered movement of Manning is therefore all the more effective.

We start with the good part of Kieran and his discovery of his alter egos latest and probably most devastating night of activity. Conversations between the two are relayed by a recording device, where messages are left for one another to hear depending on who is the active brain. This apparently simple idea of tech is one of the most effective seen this week so far and is used superbly. Especially later in the piece where we have character switches and the conversation being recorded becomes the conversation being heard. These switches are also cleverly produced with use of the flickering lights. There is indeed some clever and well prepared tech in this play, the best of the solos so far.

Ryan also embodies the two characters superbly, with the desperate and finally destroyed Kieran far apart from the truly horrifying Aaron. The latter feels dangerous even to the audience with his stalking around the room, his spitting out of the "alcohol", just his whole demeanour is frightening to be in the presence of.

It is indeed a chilling little piece of theatre, wonderfully and believably performed by Ryan and ends as only this play could in total destruction. Chilling stuff indeed.

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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