BATH VOICE THEATRE REVIEW: Next Stage Theatre’s inaugural production at Burdall’s Yard brings James Fritz’s gritty family drama to life where the acting is the play’s strength – and we learn what dads look at in the twilight hours on their laptops

Bath Voice Theatre Review: Four Minutes and 12 Seconds, Burdall’s Yard, Bath

There was a moment when I feared David was going to bring down from the loft some candid photographs of his wife Di from a romantic – sorry – saucy seventies type weekend – when they were young. Thankfully it didn’t happen but things turned rather darker in this family drama.

James Fritz’s play Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds is about how a disputed sexual assault of Cara by David and Di’s son Jack (who never appears on stage) affects the families of those involved. And how the victim remains the victim despite all the excruciating behaviour of those in the know who should know better in how to deal with the violent rape.

Bath’s Next Stage Theatre’s first production at Burdell’s Yard on the London Road is a theatrical success as they tackled Fritz’s household drama in which lies, blame and misguided parental motives produce conflicting emotions.

The four-hander featured committed Hayley Fitton-Cook as conflicted and protective mum Di. She was excellent value as she battled with in-denial husband David in his Chelsea shirt played with passion by Richard Matthews. His set piece speeches were some of the play’s highlights as were the acting of the younger cast members. Fin Hancorn as Nick – a friend of Cara and Jack – was very strong in his pub scene and was well cast by the director Ann Ellison – and Becca Jeffries as Cara was the believable victim in all of this. Damaged, angry, innocent and as so often in rape cases lacking any justice she conveyed everything a victim feels. Brilliant.

We discover dads enjoy sharing saucy photos and videos in forums run by fans of Chelsea football fans when I thought they talked about soccer, and we enter the twilight world of porn sites viewed late at night by adults. It’s a very 21st century play with very 21st century vices. But it’s also about how parents in their different ways protect their children – however misguided.

The acting by the cast was the production’s strength as the set was the bare basics in the arched stone portals of Burdall’s Yard featuring just a few chairs and a table. Brian Howe’s sound implied a backdrop of emails, messages and social media updates which combined evocatively with Kris Nuttal’s lighting that dimmed and lightened the stage well with swift changes of pace as the story unfolded. And it should be added with a play at 95 minutes straight through with no interval this was a master class of actors on top of their lines in a series of scenes that often had similar language.

As the first ever drama to be staged in the one-time night club and latter-day college resource centre Burdall’s Yard has entered a new era. And with this production the venue has essentially been Christened – and so raise a glass to Bath’s newest venue – but perhaps not to the way adults behave in Four Minutes and Twelve Seconds.

Harry Mottram

The play runs to Saturday, 12th March.

Tickets and info at https://missiontheatre.squarespace.com/burdalls-yard

Harry Mottram is the news editor of Bath Voice monthly magazine covers news, views, reviews, previews and features as well as what’s on in Bath and events for residents in Bear Flat, Widcombe and Oldfield Park and the wider Bath area. Delivered door to door in south Bath and available in shops and supermarkets. See the Facebook site for details.

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