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Ed Reardon: A Writer's Burden
Published on Friday, 22 July 2011

5 stars

Arts Centre - Auditorium
21-22 Jul, 5:30pm-6:45pm; 23 Jul, 7:15pm-8:30pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Already a firm favourite on Radio 4, Ed Reardon takes to the stage in this brand-new show.  Endearingly grumpy about being booked for such a performance, Reardon arrives late to explain his many burdens.  Helped – and sometimes hindered – by his two assistants, Nicola Sanderson and Josh Darcy, he takes the audience through the highs and lows of his curmudgeonly life.

With Ed Reardon's Week about to go into its eighth series for Radio 4, Christopher Douglas is no stranger to the character of Reardon, and unsurprisingly gives a stunning performance.  Entirely credible in the role, his witty and bitter rants are expertly delivered, and prove touching as well as bitingly funny.  Fans of the radio series will no doubt be entertained to put a face to such a well-loved character, but those unfamiliar with the show also have much to enjoy.  The script is wordy but accessible, and delivered expertly by all three actors.

The stinging vitriol against misplaced apostrophes, Reardon's more successful literary contemporaries, and the “twelve-year-olds” that blight his life definitely struck a chord with the middle-aged members of the audience.  Playing his character with warmth, Douglas also allows those from the younger generation to see themselves through Reardon's eyes – and enjoy his frustrations as his sharply accurate observances hit home.   

Premiering in Buxton, the show will no doubt grow and develop further before its Edinburgh run. Already a wonderfully entertaining piece, the few areas where it’s a little rough around the edges will surely be finessed and perfected.  Also set to change are the marvelous asides on the local area, inserted subtly enough to produce some truly comic moments.

With a finely crafted script by Andrew Nickolds and Douglas himself, the show is a brilliant portrait of the thwarted writer and the many forces that plague him daily. A mixture of caustic wit, and just the right amount of pathos, the show will please die-hard fans and newcomers alike – and will no doubt create some new fans along the way.

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