EXCITING new writing exploring our fractured society was showcased in a special double-bill at Lighthouse’s Sherling Studio on Saturday,

Staged by Dorset’s own Doppelganger Productions under the umbrella title of Reckonings, it featured Red Hot Pokers by writer-director Annie Herridge and Death of a Modern Citizen by John Foster with direction by longtime collaborator Charmaine K. Parkin.

Both centred on monologues that tell gripping tales but reveal some unpalatable truths about human-nature.

First up was Red Hot Pokers featured the excellent Darren Matthews playing Jay Jay, a gay man reflecting-on his life while coming to terms with a terminal cancer diagnosis.

It’s a moving story. Jay Jay has survived a Britain where gay sex was still illegal, he has dealt with rejection from a mother who considered him disgusting and he has lost a partner to AIDs. He even escaped a plan to ‘cure’ him with aversion therapy.

But now, as he plants his garden with his beloved Red Hot Pokers, he learns that despite all the chemo and radiation, he can’t beat cancer. It will rob him of his life. He ponders on the unfairness of a world that could never quite let him be true to himself and dreams of going out in a final super-sparkly explosion of camp. Matthews is passionate, thought-provoking and wonderfully funny. So is the script

After the break, Death of a Modern Citizen finds another Darren - Darren Godbold - starring as the ghost of suburban murder victim Myles Trehern. Kicked to death after challenging thugs in his local park, he looks on astonished at the floral tributes left by friends, family, neighbours and those who never knew him.

He reads their words. What a saint he must have been - perfect husband, loving father, have-a-go hero, protector of his respectable commuter village.

With the black-clad figure of his wife/widow/killer looking on and narrating another truth - a fine performance from Becca Kellaway - we are reminded that realities are malleable. Myles Trehern was a stressed, overworked businessman desperately trying to keep up appearances as his marriage fell apart. Absent father, unfaithful husband and unhappy man. He surveys the scene where he met his end - a muddy patch of earth where his head was crushed beneath the boots of those who threatened his pretend idyll and he watches as Little England closes ranks at his funeral, rewriting a another tiny bit of history. Myles Trehern will be remembered, like it or not, as a good man and a fine upstanding citizen. A great evening of writing, acting and sound.