What’s in a name? at Birmingham Rep

By Dave Massey twitter.com/brumhour

What’s in a name? at Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Until Saturday 11th February What’s in a Name? is at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Sharp, amusing and thoughtful, this single 95 minute show is told without interval. Set in Elizabeth (Sarah Hadland) and Peter’s (Jamie Glover) loft style apartment somewhere in Peckham, London. Elizabeth’s brother Vincent (Nigel Harman) and her close friend Carl (Raymond Couthard) arrive for a relaxed evening meal. Vincent has baby news for his family and friend, and an argument breaks out before his wife Anna (Olivia Poulet) arrives.

Sarah Hadland as-Elizabeth photo by Robert Day

I’ve been to Birmingham Rep many times over the years, and it’s modern space is great for telling this modern comedy with drama. Sarah Hadland is probably best known as Stevie from Miranda and also The Job Lot, and Nigel Harman known as Dennis Rickman from Eastenders.

We arrived 15 minutes before the show, and were lucky enough to be in the centre of a row. The set itself was a living room inside a twisted large silver picture frame. There’s much about the set to distract while we waited for the play to begin. From an array of books, to bottles of gin, and modern sound systems perfect for adding an iPhone or Android to for personal play list music.

Nigel Harman as Vincent by Robert Day

This is a group of friends who feel honest and open with each other, yet they hide secrets sometimes in full view.

The actors were very comfortable with each other and that feeling of family and connection made me think of situations I’ve been in myself or that people have told me. There was a lot for me to empathise with. Wow I said an emotion word there.. I know.

I noticed the rain through the window at the moments when everyone paused for thought and how the sleeping kids could probably reach the gin bottle on the stairs. I also noticed the family photo, and the artwork of children’s hand and foot prints on the wall.

Nigel Harman as Vincent with Jamie Glover as Peter Raymond Coulthard as carl

Nigel Harman is a great narrator and the pace moves swiftly through the themes of identity, loss and confusion, which are all tackled in a light manner that makes you not notice until something mildly serious happens.

This is a brash, funny, warm and charmingly told story, well worth seeing.

Check out What’s in a Name? Birmingham Rep until Feb 11th. Tickets are available online here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/whats-in-a-name.html#event-datesTimes.

Follow Birmingham Rep on Twitter: twitter.com/BirminghamRep.

Thanks to Birmingham Rep for inviting me and my plus one to see What’s in A Name? I’m not sure what I’d call a child if I had one. But I’m going to have a think about it. These are my honestly held views.