Bare All!

There’s nothing worse than arriving at the theatre with a smile upside down. With a stubborn spot on forehead (pre-popped the night before!), frizzy hair, growling stomach, forgotten notebook, dead iPod, delayed trains and tubes, I wasn’t exactly feeling the “Hello Emma Kay” vibes, just the “Goodbye Emma Kay”. Having a bad day in the office, I was a grump-o-my-sore-ass, dragging a dark cloud like a helium balloon. Staring at the floor or my dying phone, I was wearing my “no nonsense” hat. Refusing to let this mysterious misery guts go, Bare Essentials flashed its toned and wobbly bits…and my smile eventually made a reappearance (the right way round!).

Encompass are a London-based theatre and production company. We have created stories that explore the psychological and emotional since 2010, drawing from cinematic influences to present our work through heightened reality. While our main house productions are known are being bold and visually arresting, Bare Essentials allows us to go back-to-basics with raw and elemental new work. We’ve had the pleasure of producing it since 2012, making us one of London’s longest-running independent new writing nights!

Orbiting the Seven Dials roundabout (many times!), I finally found the Club after following my nose (…okay…maybe my nose was following Google Maps!). Welcomed into the sophisticated buzz of a socially drinking hang out, the crowds grew. It wasn’t exactly the right environment for someone hanging solo, but I loved the swankiness of it all.

The Maltese Walter by John Minigan. Directed by Katie Turner. Right to left: Dr Eddy (Austin Caley),  Walter (Josh Morter) and Vera (Jennie Delaney)

Bare Essentials has found its niche audience – those who support their creative friends and appreciate the hard slog of a creative project. As well-loved underdogs, they inspire, jeer, banter and simply enjoy the dramatic company. Praising their community spirit, they encourage new writing and, most importantly, help each other to the stage.

Celebrating their new home at Seven Dials Club, it was clear many people were familiar of their “X Factor” journey and backed the work of Encompass Productions. With a limited budget and creative volunteers, these guys deserve the recognition and applause for their service. They are encouraging the next generation of writers, directors, stage managers and actors. They stand for what I believe in: compassion, expression, collaboration and creation.

Being new to the Bare Essentials’ experience, I felt like I was gatecrashing their “Best of…” party, missing a huge chunk of their successful journey. I just skipped to the good bit. Rejoicing without any knowledge of their achievements, I was out of sync. I no longer had my finger of their pulse, but I was the one needing mouth to mouth. Wanting a crash course of everything on Encompass Productions, I was unsure on how I could approach this blog post. Although we were both joined at the hip with our one love – theatre, the plays were snapshots, on auto mode, but without the flash and focus.

Bare Essentials is NOT a scratch a night. We approach each piece with the same commitment as our full-scale shows,striving to bring audiences new writing in a well-rehearsed, polished ‘micro theatre’ form. The only difference is, we don’t have a budget!

Normally, I would break down a production into smithereens, examining characters and dialogue, relating the story with a deeply moving personal experience and bigging up the cast for the sake of a name drop. However, Bare Essentials was a pick ‘n’ mix type of evening. Consisting of six plays, I became disoriented and the evening lacked my love for detail. Stories were short whilst I yearned for chapters. I wanted the drama to bite and pull at the brain, instead the plays tickled and tugged. Blogging about theatre for over a year, I love this sense of self-discovery, recognising the wide scope of the arts industry and acknowledging personal likes and dislikes within theatre.

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Thin Air by Tom Coash. Directed by Liam Fleming. Bird (Freya Parsons

Led by the host Liam Fleming, the fantastic cast were professional tag teams, constantly switching the pace and themes. From monologues to comical routines to tongue in cheek drama, Bare Essentials introduced me to micro theatre. This was theatre stripped back to an empty meeting room and performed to a chilled out, social crowd.

Best enjoyed with friends and a drink, Bare Essentials was a great evening of theatre. Being a theatre spoil sport, the production was a light nibble for serious theatre enthusiasts, but the passionate declarations of making theatre earned high praise. This production exposed the roots of blooming good theatre and the petals of craft. Surrounded by West End theatres, Seven Dials was the aboveground centre of raw talent, providing a platform for creatives to voice their writing and future projects. Bare Essentials was the ultimate box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.


Follow Encompass Productions here

Bare Essentials – The ‘Best Of’ Edition
Thin Air by Tom Coash / Directed by Liam Fleming / Bird: Freya Parsons
The Leaving Of Things by Dean Moynihan / Directed by Jonathan Cooper / Paul: Pip Barclay / Emma: Louise Beresford
The Maltese Walter by John Minigan / Directed by Katie Turner / Walter: Josh Morter / Dr Eddy: Austin Caley / Vera: Jennie Delaney
The News by Lucy Foster / Directed by Lucy Foster / Craig: Edward Bell / Mark: Howard Horner / Gill: Hannah Lawrence
Love In Freefall by Simon Jackson / Directed by Liam Fleming / Major Steve: Jordan Kouame / Lieutenant Lawrence: James Unsworth / Private Johnson: Sam Dunston
How to Murder Someone And Make Sure They’re Absolutely Definitely Dead by Matthew Smith / Directed by Jonathan Woodhouse / April: Samantha Wynn / Jerry: Matthew Leigh / Xander: Pip Barclay

This performance was dedicated to the memory of Encompass Production’s beloved friend and actor Graham Christopher.

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