The Bridge That Tom Built @ C Nova
Bringing two shows to the fringe this year, Flanagan Collective could really give a masterclass in the kind of storytelling performance that breaks the fourth wall. The Bridge That Tom Built is their endeavour into solo performance, narrated by the man himself, Mr Tom Payne, as he details his entire life from his poor relationship with his father up until his very last moments in France, America, England.
The speed of the monologue is fast paced from the off and never really lets up. It's a testament to actor and writer Dominic Allen's stamina performing in one of C Nova's hottest studios with barely a moment to take pause in the entire speech. This is, of course, perfectly suited to a portrayal of Thomas Payne: a man who never did anything less than speak his mind.
The words perfectly weave the historical facts, characters and even some historical speeches into the performance and the show is nothing if not perfectly researched. It captures an audience's interest. However, if it is the subject matter that at first intrigues it is Allen's performance that holds the audiences attention and really raises support for Payne. You sympathise with him as a character and become invested in his success, his values, his beliefs and the ways in which he never founders from them.
He may not be the man for peacetime, for after the fighting has ceased; but he is a man of principle and one you most definitely want fighting in your corner. An incredibly important historical figure is humanised by the self-deprecating jokes, direct addresses to the audience and an earnest, unshakable resolve and determination that the world these days needs to see more of. It is clear Tom Payne was a man who could bring about change, and Flanagan Collective, led here by Dominic Allen, are exactly the right company to depict it.