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Call Me John - Reflex Theatre (07.03.2024)

Updated: Mar 9

Inspired by the Great Grandfather of Reflex Theatre's Artistic Director, Callan Durrant, Call Me John largely centres around grandad John who is writing his life story to pass down to grandson Ashley.

As a person whose key memories are framed by war, John’s story is remarkable viewed through the lens of our modern era, and although John doesn't see it that way, Ashley insists that as a part of history, his story is one worth recording.

The script, written by co-Artistic Director, Megan Durrant is simple but beautifully written. It allows John to play narrator in his own story at times, at other times Ashley reads from his grandad’s book, but it's at its finest when John addresses Ashley directly and between them they re-enact the tales.

As someone whose grandad only exists in memories, I was quite taken by Timothy Nixon's performance as grandad John. Timothy played the part with a warmth and a slight cantankerousness that evoked memories of my own grandfather. I appreciate that's not going to be the same for everyone watching the show, but it meant the performance perhaps touched me deeper than I would have anticipated. Callum Adkins played the young Ashley, who at first seems a disinterested youth, but learns to appreciate his grandad and then experiences trauma of his own during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a deceptively brilliant performance from both Timothy and Callum, where for the most part they looked as though they were coasting along on stage in fairly gentle fashion, until they really hit you with some raw emotion in the latter stages.

Alongside their excellent performances, there was some quite cleverly choreographed 'set changes' between the two of them. The set mostly consisted of a handful of large wooden cubes, with their variously painted facades requiring them being placed on the stage with a certain precision, and they carried it off with ease.

In the programme notes, Director Callan Durrant states that they are using this second run of Call Me John to experiment with a "low tech, high immersion approach". And I felt in this quietly captivating production that it was all the better for it, as it allowed the wonderful storytelling and acting to come to the fore.

Call Me John continues at Aylsham Town Hall on the 8th March, and two performances at the Anteros Arts Foundation on the 9th. Visit for booking details.


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