REVIEW: BURNING BRIDGES (Theatre 503) ★★★★


Burning Bridges is Amy Shindler’s first stage play. It was written as a tribute to her mother when her mother, who was a teacher, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just a short time to live. Amy has proved to be both a talented actor and a talented writer.

In order to write the book Amy began to research Asperger’s syndrome, which was one of the major problems suffered by many of the children her mother had taught as a special needs teacher.

Loving husband and wife couple Dan and Kate are having Kate’s sister Sarah (who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome) stay with them whilst she does a college course in London, Kate accepts that it is her duty to look after her sister and even begins to question her own motives in leaving Sarah and their mother in the first place, while she began a new life in London. Dan is quite easy going about it. After all Sarah is young, beautiful and, inadvertently, funny. What could possibly go wrong?

One evening Dan and Sarah are alone in the apartment on Dan’s birthday sharing a birthday cake made by Sarah using Mayonnaise because they did not have the ingredients she wanted. At Sarah’s suggestion they begin playing Trivial Pursuit with glasses of vodka as forfeits. This is something of a fix as Sarah is incapable of forgetting any fact once it is learned. Quite soon, while both of them are under the influence of copious amounts of Vodka. Sarah tries to seduce her brother in law and, as the lights go down for the intermission the pair are kissing and Dan’s hand is holding Sarah’s breast.

Sarah tries to commit suicide and tells the Police that Dan had raped her, which Dan strenuously denies, though he admits to Kate that he and her sister have had a drunken kissing session that night. The police drop the case but Kate has her doubts about Dan’s innocence, knowing that Sarah is mentally incapable of lying. Will she believe her sister and leave her husband or will she question her sister’s ability to tell a lie and stand by the man she loves?

The cast, Simon Bubb as Dan, Anne Adams as Kate and bright sparky Rae Brogan as Sarah are, without exception, superb. Simon is very experienced has appeared in Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre productions and on many television and radio productions including Red Dwarf, EastEnders and The Archers. Annie Adams has many Chicago theatre credits to her name including Cherry Orchard and Imagining Brad. She has a number of feature films upcoming and is also an award winning playwright. Rae Brogan has a number of London stage credits and has appeared on BBC1’s Call the Midwife. Rae is currently developing a comedy script with her writing partner Lucy Grainger.

The writer of this very funny and intelligent play, Amy Shindler, began her career as an actor on television, radio and stage and has developed into an excellent writer for many BBC, ITV, Comedy Central, Sky and Radio 4 programs.

Theatre 503 is an elegant sixty three seater theatre above The Latchmere pub in Battersea Park Road, London. It is nice and comfortable and friendly and specialises in mainly groundbreaking plays by emerging playwrights.

Burning Bridges tackles the idea of what it can be like to live with an Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer in a unique and sometimes humorous way, I heartedly recommend it.

Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Sam Taylor

BURNING BRIDGES plays at Theatre 503 until 30 September 2016