Set in the 1950s, Bed Seven is a sweet and charming true-life love story. This two-hander stars Chloe Wigmore as nurse Patricia and Jesse Rutherford as Gerald, the resident of the eponymous Bed Seven. They also take on the roles of each other’s respective parents, with these slightly out of frame voices providing important context to their lives.
Playwright Simon de Cintra also takes on directing duties, and his focus seems to be on getting the tone and feel for the period just right. This provides a comforting sense of nostalgia, but gets in the way of the emotional power of the story fully landing.
Chloe Wigmore gives a lovely performance as Patricia, a girl from a working class background who defies expectations to become a nurse rather than a factory worker. She particularly comes into her own in the exchanges we observe with her father, who has always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. Jesse Rutherford is an endearing Gerald, a university graduate from an apparently well-to-do family, who is poised to take over the successful family business once he has recovered from his illness.
I enjoyed watching their story unfold, but the potential chemistry and drama in the piece isn’t fully explored. It feels at times like I’m being told they are falling in love, rather than watching it happen. Given the nature of Gerald’s illness, there was more scope to tease us with potential tragedy, but this doesn’t happen. The emotion of this true life story seems to be hiding behind the play, rather than being revealed through it, which prevented me from feeling fully invested in the fate of these two likeable protagonists.
Having said that, this is a charming piece which provides a nice antidote for our troubled times.
Bed Seven runs at the Tristan Bates until Saturday 23rd November.