Are You Sitting Comfortably Review

I’ve always been good at keeping secrets.

It’s just something you pick up as a child when you’re raised by two women in a small red neck, south coast town.

Sure, lesbianism may be all the rage nowadays, but try telling that to a bunch of inbred teenagers back in the nineties.

So when performing duo Bernadette Russell and Gareth Brierley invite audience members to share their most uncomfortable secrets with the rest of the class as part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival last weekend, I checked to see just how comfortably I was sitting.

Held in the ornate environs of Battersea’s public house come theatrical venue The Secret Garden, Are You Sitting Comfortably is a theatrical storytelling event that offers London’s budding writers a chance to have their words acted out on stage to an audience of literary enthusiasts as well as fellow would be authors.

Not to mention two bit imposters who have positioned themselves as arts reviewers.

Curated by the real life husband and wife team of Brierley and Russell, Are You Sitting Comfortably is a mixed theatrical bag that’s overly dependent on both the quality of written works read out during the eve as well as the detached interpretation of these short stories by a trio of performing actors.

Naturally, you can’t help but feel that the intent of a writer’s words will inevitably get lost in translation when someone unfamiliar with these works reads them aloud.

The energy and more importantly conviction used by Brierley in particular when imagining out loud his own story is conspicuous by its absence from other tales he has to tell; especially as later literary escapades are generally of more interest than

On the other hand, it’s not like writers are renowned for the willingness to get up in front of an audience to perform their own words.

So I guess you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The Secret Garden is a beautiful setting though, swiftly making you forget about my schlep from north London to Battersea Park for the eve, even if the yoga moves I had to practice to enter and exit my seat ensured I wasn’t always sitting comfortably.

No doubt the collection of London’s bohemian artists, actors and creators I spied on my arrival would be swelled even further if this garden wasn’t so secret, but therein lies part of this venue’s charm.

So I guess that’s another secret I might just keep to myself.

Jonathan Campbell

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May 2012
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