Written by Bristol student, Ben Bridson, this original play tells the story of Fliss Nugent and her eponymous clothes store – Felicity’s - in the heart of Gloucester Road. Spanning from 1980 to 2016, the play’s action takes place inside the shop as the audience are taken on a moving journey through its heritage, and the lives of the characters who come and go through the decades.
From the outset, actors bounce off one another with energetic and comic dialogue. We watch as Fliss encounters a variety of characters whose distinctive personalities portray the spirit of Bristol’s diverse culture. But this action is interrupted by a series of performance montages, demonstrating the store’s poignant journey through time. In these moments, the play’s experimental use of visual aids such as radio recordings, video backdrops and choreographed movement pieces intriguingly channel the emotion of the city’s incredible history.
References to the St Paul riots of 1984, Bristol’s very real homeless problem and the inevitable transient nature of relationships are cleverly incorporated into this portrayal of Gloucester Road, with stirring results. As Fliss tries to cope with the ever-changing world around her, the story weaves themes of love, loss and hardship into its heartfelt portrayal of Bristol’s sense of community.
Written as part of Spotlights community project, the play comes to an end with the voices of real-life Bristolians. By reconciling the fictional story of Fliss with this sense of Gloucester Road’s authentic community, the play ultimately comes to embody the enduring spirit of this historic street.
Photographs by Harry Plowden.