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Fred's Diner By Penelope Skinner


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#1 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 09:40 AM

For their 50th anniversary, Chichester has built a new, temporary space called Theatre on the Fly. It seats 100-150, and is made from recycled wood and pond liner, and has a fully functioning flying system. Unusually for Chichester, the stage is end on!

TotF has hosted 3 productions this summer, the last of which is Fred's Diner, Penelope Skinner's new play, which opened last week in Chichester. It's set in an American-style diner, run by Fred, on an English motorway. Melissa, Fred's daughter, is one of 3 waitresses who work there, but she has dreams of going to Oxford to study law, to which her father objects.

It's a brilliant piece of new writing- very funny, but dark and deeply moving. The cast is uniformly excellent, but Cush Jumbo as Melissa and Tracey Wilkinson as Heather (another waitress) are stunning. Some reviews have said that it gets overly dramatic near the end, but I found it wholly believable and powerful. It's given a great production by Tim Hoare- scenes are interspersed with tunes from the diner jukebox, and the noise of the outside traffic (the theatre walls are v thin) are perfect for this motorway setting.

As you can see, I loved it. It deserves a transfer (it would be wonderful in the Cottesloe... mayber Hytner could do another regional transfer, like he did with Spring Storm/Beyond the Horizon from Northampton...), but I can't see it getting a commercial outing- too risky. It's on 'til Sept 1st, after which the theatre will get pulled down, so get thee to Chichester (and see an evening performance if possible- it works much better with the theatre lighting, rather than the natural light- as I said, the walks are thin!).



#2 Honoured Guest

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 10:18 AM

Is it really noisy when it's raining? Maybe Soho Theatre would suit it?

#3 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 10:39 AM

It was clear sky on Wednesday evening, so I have no direct experience, but I can imagine it being rather noisy when wet.
Also, when I was there, there was a football match on in Oakland Park (the park next to CFT, on the edge of which TotF is built), and every now and then you would hear goal celebrations!






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