Thursday, 3 December 2015

INTERVIEW - Guy Retallack, The Bridge House Theatre - A Christmas Carol

OF all the classic stories that are synonymous with Christmas perhaps the most famous is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
And it is this famous tale that the Bridge House Theatre is using as inspiration for its festive show this year.
A Christmas Carol.... More Or Less was devised by Saturday Night Live writers Stefano LoVerso and Mary Ivey.
It is a play within a play and set in a local theatre, something that director and Bridge House Theatre founder Guy Retallack acknowledges has similarities with his own.
"Essentially it's about a couple in their late 20s or early 30s, Charlie and Sarah, who run a small theatre, much like the Bridge House," he says.
"Charlie is an actor, producer and director, who is finding running his theatre tough. There's not much money and he and Sarah are on the brink of splitting up.
"He suddenly finds himself with a chance to go to LA and write for a reality TV show and perhaps make it as a film script writer.
"However he and Sarah were lined up to put on a Christmas show but unfortunately the cast of six has gone off skiing at the dry ski slope and they have an accident there.
"It's left to Charlie to come back and tell Sarah what happened. They then have to decide whether to put the show on and do it themselves or cancel it. Charlie also has to make a decision on whether or not to move to LA.
"It is a fantastic story - it's so entertaining, really imaginative, magical, full of emotion, very poignant and farcical and all done at break neck speed so it's very, very funny!"
Fortunately despite the similarities Guy says there is no chance of him skipping off to LA.
But he acknowledges that running a small theatre is not easy. He and his wife, actress Rachel Tucker, and friend producer Rob Harris established the Bridge House last year and are in for the long haul.
"This is an amazing theatre and we have invested so much in it," he says. "But we are determined because we believe in it. We had such a fantastic time doing It's A Wonderful Life last year and we are so excited about this year's show and next year we have plans to be even more ambitious with our programming.
"It's tough running a theatre but the support we've had from the local community has been fantastic.
"Now we want to reach out a bit further - there is a real potential for building an audience beyond Sydenham and Penge.
"It takes time to get it established but we love it."
So what will Charlie and Sarah? Will they do the show themselves and if they do, make it through to the final curtain call?
"You will have to come and find out," smiles Guy.

A Christmas Carol... More Or Less is on at the Bridge House Theatre, Penge until Tuesday, December 22. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 020 8133 0311.

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