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Screaming Inside

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Screaming Inside is a one man show depicting a year in the life of a self titled ‘lone ranger of the technology department.’ Stuart Pearce is an eccentric and embarrassing sort of man that you would probably avoid in the work place – sweet but undeniably awkward. The title of the show indicates this will be dark throughout, but that is not the case. What makes the story sad is seeing why Stuart is the way he is, as he tells stories of abuse and abandonment. This is mixed in with funny tales of people at work or his encounters at the supermarket.

One-man shows with a dark and emotional core have a risk of being overly long or uncomfortable, however Screaming Inside is structured perfectly to avoid this. Each monologue is set around a holiday such as Christmas or Valentines Day with a coordinated narrative of the present but also memories of the past. The stage design of his flat allows an interesting and effective use of the space. Stuart wants everything under his control: the order of his groceries or the exact timing of the video recordings he makes. The only thing out of his control are the memories that haunt him.

When Stuart states at the performance’s climax that ‘no one really knows the truth, even when every fibre of you is screaming inside’ (or something to that effect) the words play on the audience’s moral conscience. Every day we might judge and dismiss certain people we interact with, without realising the extent of their daily struggle. Stuart’s only outlet is his video camera into which he enthusiastically tells his stories.

Shane Armstrong gives an outstanding performance here as this vulnerable and troubled man. The moments where the tension and troubled past come to the surface and we see Stuart’s upset and anger are moving. The everyday stories have funny moments but always have an element of the uncomfortable as we hear how the protagonist’s life is one embarrassment or let down after another.

The performance built up to an inevitable and sad climax, though a narrative twist came as a surprise and didn’t seem to quite fit with what had preceded. Ambiguity is interesting but here a little more clarity felt needed as this narrative point felt a little forced. Still, the performance is engaging throughout and plays on both the mind and heart as we feel desperately sad for Stuart’s life and a collective guilt for so easily dismissing individuals such as Stuart. Screaming Inside is a piece of stand out writing with a phenomenal performance that really shouldn’t be missed.

The Basement. 19th May 20:00 - 22:00, 20th May 20:00 - 22:00, 21st May 20:00 - 22:00, 22nd May 20:00 - 22:00, 23rd May 20:00 - 22:00. Tickets £8.50 Concessions £6.50 Suitable for ages 15+ Tickets available from Brighton Fringe Box Office