Mr Punch by Steve Byron in collaboration with Joana Geronimo. 

Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

16th September 2023

I really love Alphabetti Theatre because of the ethos they have. This is really a place for everyone. There are social events, opportunities for meeting the management, free pool and darts and you are welcome to have a pint. There is also the chance to see some really innovative and hard-hitting drama should you choose to watch it. 

Tonight, I saw the new play, Mr Punch. Mr Punch tells the story of Norman who has just lost his dad, He is at a very low ebb as he returns worse for wear to his humble flat following the death of his father. Norman is an alcoholic; he is feeling very sorry for himself and he has distanced himself from everyone.

When we meet Norman (Steve Byron), he is inebriated. He stays three sheets throughout the performance which really works well with the story. I am delighted that he never sobers up because that really gives a realism to the narrative.

He is interrupted in his drinking by a new neighbour played by Joana Geronimo and a relationship is born between the struggling Norman and the single parent neighbour who is also trying to make ends meet. 

The relationship between these two disparate characters is a joy to witness. They are from two different worlds but they find a commonality that is comforting and truly genuine. That is achieved by the way the play is set (Ali Pritchard). All the action takes place in Norman’s living room which is dishevelled and tells of his alcoholic existence. 

There are two distressing stories in this play of hardship, abuse, and neglect intertwined with a delightful coming together of two very different people who come to understand each other despite their differences, The non seen daughter and her relationship with the disenchanted Norman is a very effective and poignant element too. 

Mr Punch will tweak at your heart strings and make you laugh too. There is a devastating message in the telling, a wonderful finding of minds and you will laugh, cry and maybe even challenge yourself as you see the performers do the same throughout this carefully constructed, and beautifully crafted play.

Running Time: Approx. 75 Minutes. This could be subject to change due to this being new work. Please check the website for most updated run time.

Notes: 14+. Content Warnings: Strong Swearing, Alcohol Abuse, Sexual References, Partial Nudity, Injury, Blood, Vomiting, reference to domestic and child abuse, Racial Discrimination and Stereotyping.

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