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Watermill Theatre - Nesting

4th to 8th July 2017 and on tour

Review from Newbury Theatre.

If, like me, you’re quite untidy, the set for the Watermill’s touring production of Nesting is reassuringly familiar: a sitting room whose every surface is piled high with stuff (although for the sake of marital harmony I must stress that our house isn’t as bad as that (yet)). It’s Linda’s house and she’s been hoarding (she calls it ‘collecting’) for more than ten years since her husband died. She’s happy with it except for Toby, the resident rat, and she’s called a pest control firm to get rid of him.

Enter Jonathan to assess the situation. Not unreasonably, he points out that a lot of the clutter will need to be cleared to find and eradicate the rat. Jonathan offers to help tidy up and over time a relationship develops. Jonathan is a lot younger than Linda and he’s neat and tidy (he folds his underpants, he tells us). That in itself is going to be a problem (not the pants; his need for tidiness and control versus her free range approach).

During the interval, Jonathan’s team come in and clear out all the clutter, leaving a tidy room, and after that the conflicts increase.

The story, by Ellen Robertson, is an intriguing one. Linda’s hoarding and Jonathan’s obsessive tidiness are compensating for something missing from their lives, but in a way that allows them to have control. When something threatens to undermine their control, the problems start.

Cathy Walker is fantastic as Linda. Apologetic, nervy and nerdy, her facial expressions beautifully convey her emotions. David Bonnick Jr as Jonathan starts quietly and tentatively in Act 1 as he sizes up the situation, bursting into anger as we see another side of him in Act 2. Both actors work well together to bring out the humour and pathos in this moving play directed by Emily Burns.

Frankie Bradshaw has designed a small set but packed with more things than you’d get in much bigger shows. A special mention should go to the crew who have to unpack and pack this for every production on tour.

Nesting is a funny and poignant play with great acting and a set that’s ideally suited to its tour of village halls. It’s at the Watermill from 4th to 8th July and then continues its tour. Don’t miss it.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

The funny side of OCD

Watermill's moving new play tours to rural venues

Nesting, at The Watermill, Bagnor, Tuesday, July 4, to Saturday, July 8, then touring to village halls, rural venues and arts centres until July 22

Ellen Robertson's impressive new play Nesting takes as its themes hoarding, obsessive compulsive disorder, love, relationships and loss. It's quite a list, but it's a witty, funny, and touching story.

Linda – outstandingly played by Cathy Walker, who deftly captured every nuance of this anguished character – lives alone in her home. She is surrounded by the detritus of her life following the death of her investment banker husband, Pete, in a car crash.

She is an obsessive hoarder or, as she calls it, "collecting". But this is an excessive accumulation of 10 years of possessions, including four irons, broken umbrellas galore that will match any outfit she wears and shoes bought in a sale as a present, but never given.

Then there are unopened Amazon parcels, delivered in 2012, trainers because one day she will take up running and her extensive collection of Stevie Wonder records. Plus Toby the rat, who has taken up residence among all this debris.

There are enough sentimental precious possessions to fill several large skips and Frankie Bradshaw's cluttered set perfectly portrays this.

Neurotic Linda decides to call in a pest control specialist to dispose of Toby.

Enter Jonathan, who tells Linda that he needs more space if he is to find the rat.

He agrees to help Linda declutter, but she is reluctant to throw anything away as her whole life is in this house.

Jonathan, superbly played by David Bonnick Jr, is the entire opposite of Linda. He is obsessively concerned with order and tidiness and he even folds his underpants.

Even though Jonathan is much younger, a love affair develops, although their lifestyle differences cause tension.

After the interval, the house is completely cleared by his team and is transformed into a pristine show home, much to Linda's shock and extreme horror.

Stress abounds, as Jonathan becomes more controlling and Linda comes to terms with her grief, learning to be more assured, but with drastic and unexpected consequences.

Skilfully directed by Emily Burns, this moving play is highly recommended.

It tours to village halls until July 22.

Do catch it.