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Adrian’s Wall

There is a brand new play on at Malvern Theatres this week, by their Writer in Residence, Nick Wilkes. Last time Malvern Theatres had a resident playwright, it was George Bernard Shaw, so this new guy has quite a bit to live up to! This new play was billed as a comedy, so I thought I’d treat myself to a seat at the Saturday matinĂ©e, to round off a very long and busy week at work.

The eponymous Adrian has just turned forty, and is having something of a mid-life crisis. He resolves to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall, inspired by a long-ago project in primary school, and in the company of a couple of classmates from that time. All three of them are somewhat inadequate, both personally and in their preparedness, but before they get too horribly lost, they stumble upon a mysterious stranger who helps them complete their trek along the wall. The deep sadnesses in all their lives are revealed through flash-backs, but there were also snort-out-loud funny bits too.

I thought the star of the afternoon was in fact the set. A section of Hadrian’s Wall had been recreated across the middle of the auditorium, and the play was performed with the audience sitting facing each other to the north and south of the wall. When I took my seat before the play started, there was a middle-aged man in an anorak, walking boots and gaiters, sitting on the wall eating a sandwich – Adrian himself as it turned out, waiting for his classmates to join him at the start of the walk.

I enjoyed the play. It was at times both funny and moving, and it was interesting seeing the four misfits bond together into a team over the length of the walk. It’s good that Malvern Theatres is getting involved in commissioning new writing, as well as being firmly on the pre-West End touring circuit.