I’ve just come back from one of The Baxter‘s staged play readings. They have been holding them for a few years now, but sadly, publicity for this season has not been good and this afternoon’s show was very poorly attended. I am assuming that people just didn’t know about it because the others I’ve been to have been pretty much sold out.

This afternoon’s play was Coming Up For Air, written by Brit Don Kinch and directed by Paul Savage. I love these staged readings because they are filled with possibility and also offer up amazing talent from the performers. It is a hit or miss affair though, and tonight’s text just didn’t deliver.

The concept is good: How does the legal and health system decide on the mental state of a murderer, particularly a black, minority group murderer? Unfortunately, the concept never moves from the dialectic into theatre, because there is so much talking heads and not enough drama. Also, the poor psychiatrist is written as a one dimensional, whining, defensive pain, who doesn’t grow or change or be moved by her patient.

What Paul did have though, was Tshamano Sebe who is absolutely, totally superb. The last thing I saw him in was When Jesus Hopped The A Train in the same Baxter Studio and there he also played a prisoner with a story. He really is a master, and made the whole thing worth while.

I am certain that the text needs a lot of work before it gets made into a full production. But there are seeds of something. And I suppose that’s what it’s all about. The Baxter does need to do a better job of marketing the play readings though.