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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Chats and swipes: Love Me Now @TristanBates

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Casual encounters are in the spotlight in Love Me Now. It’s a new play by Michelle Barnette playing at Tristan Bates Theatre . Not so much about love gone wrong but about the young and the loveless. There are no names in this piece as three characters move in and out of each others lives with sex and idle chatter.  Set over a series of hookups, the main focuse of the piece is on a  woman (Helena Wilson) and her regular date (Alistair Toovey). Much of the piece is set in and around the bed. Before and after sex. She wants something more from the regular encounters. He’s more blow and go. And her attempts to get equal treatment only lead to disaster.   Later she finds another man (Gianbruno Spena) who says the right things but it turns out to be the same man in a different package. Along the way the hedonism and partial nudity are at times hilarious. Wilson is engaging as the frank and seemingly carefree woman with one-liners about blowjobs.  Toovey is convincing as a fit young man who’s