Review of CamdenFringe: Stuff at Etcetera Theatre

STUFFMick Cooper’s Stuff is a foray into the increasingly common world of infertility and IVF.

It is a story of life, death, family, friendship and all the ‘stuff’ in-between. Stuff tells the story of Toby (Peter Ash) and Jess Matthews (Eve Burley), a seemingly happily married couple who are unable to conceive a child; or rather Toby is unable to. Their life has become a series of tests, charts and organized sex. One night, their dinner guest makes an odd offering – to use his frozen “stuff” to become parents. In comes the charming and charismatic Xav (Karl Greenwood), an eccentric millionaire who is dying from a brain tumor. A simple offering from his perspective, but one that puts Toby and Jess at odds with one another.

Fringe theatre can often be found tucked away in smaller, simpler spaces and Stuff is no exception. Performed this year at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden we are treated to the intimate setting of an apartment living room, with the stage less than a metre away from the audience. There are minimal props, nor staging to hide behind. We rely on excellent acting to carry the story forward, and we were not disappointed. Eve Burley brings the right mix of drama and comedy to the role. Showing a fantastic chemistry with Ash and Greenwood, Eve’s performance is compelling. Peter Ash expertly portrays the mixed emotions of Toby, transitioning between the supportive husband, to a man who is struggling with his own inability to father a child. With a character that develops quickly over an hour, Peter Ash moves from emotion to emotion with ease. Karl Greenwood steals the show with his rendition of Xav, who can be likened to a hyperactive child who never shows any sign of slowing down. He keeps the story moving; through fast-paced comedy and witty one-liner’s. My standout moment of the night is an infamous scene involving hummus and tzatsiki, which was both slightly stomach churning and delightfully entertaining. Stuff focuses on the lighter side of the situation, with laugh out loud one liners, a million ways to say ‘sperm’ (bollock yoghurt anyone?), and a superhero named “Xav Man”.

Although this play is extremely funny, it also doesn’t take the easy route. It deals with raw, and overpowering human emotions – the fear of dying, losing your memory, the burning desire to have a child, the fear of losing a loved one, or of being simply forgotten. I expected an inevitable conclusion; however we are left with one of Xav’s perfectly well timed one-liners, and a smile on our faces.
4 Stars

Review by Lisa Shaw

Toby and Jess Matthews are unable to conceive children. Or rather, Toby is unable to. One night, an old school friend of Jess’ – Xav – makes the unique suggestion that they use his frozen “stuff” instead and become parents. This can’t be a good idea? Can it? Set during one strange night in The Matthew’s front room, ‘Stuff’ is the unusual story of life, death, family, friendship and all the stuff in-between.


WINNER of the “Audience Favourite Play” award at 24:7 Theatre Festival.
WINNER of Best Male at the UK Studio Theatre Awards.
“Poignant yet very, very funny in places… A thoroughly rewarding, thoroughly adult, production” –Manchester Theatre Awards
“Stuff is definitely a play you should go and watch” – Lancashire Life

Twitter: @mbhtheatre
CamdenFringe: Stuff
20 August 2015 – 23 August 2015 at 8:00pm

23rd August 2015

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