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See How They Run

Tea, vicars, chases, dropped trousers - the farce that is See How They Run

Tea, vicars, chases, dropped trousers – the farce that is See How They Run

See How They Run is a farce by Open Space Theatre company, performed at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft, April 2017.

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 24 April 2017

To stage a classic, traditional, fast-paced, highly energetic romping farce well is a challenge for any theatre company.

Open Space proved themselves more than up to it when they brought ‘See How They Run’ to Lowestoft’s Seagull Theatre on their latest regional tour.

The company has created a richly varied back catalogue of productions from Chekhov and Ibsen to Alan Bennett and now this old Philip King favourite from wartime Britain, gently mocking and reminding us of changed times and long-gone social mores.

Director David Green has a knack for capturing the absurdities of mistaken identities, ludicrous vicars, alcohol, doors and entrances and frantic, mad-cap running about to perfection.

He leads a talented cast including the always delightfully pompous Peter Sowerbutts as the Bishop, the increasingly masterful Emma Martin as the vicar’s unsuitable wife and introducing a talented Frances Lamb as the not-so-dumb maid.

Some reviews of a few other Open Space productions:

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

A Doll’s House

Habeas Corpus

Separate Tables

Woman in Mind

An Inspector Calls

From Russia 

Betrayal

Death of a Salesman 

 

Filed under: Reviews

Bugsy Malone

File:Thompson-and-his-gun.jpg
Bugsy Malone
at East Point Academy, Lowestoft

Bugsy Malone is one of those marvellous creations – a piece of fun-filled, light-hearted, joyful nonsense that’s stood the test of time (it was first around as a film in 1976) and is accessible to all ages.

In the hands of the production team led by the indomitable Jo Gilbert, East Point Academy did a wonderful job in bringing sheer entertainment to large and enthusiastic audiences.

Set very loosely in the speakeasies and alleys of Prohibition-era Chicago, it revolves round rival gangsters, hoodlums, undesirables, loose women, death dealt by cream pies and splurge guns and a couple of incompetent cops.

It packs some favourite songs, such as ‘My Name Is Tallulah’, ‘Tomorrow’, ‘So You Wanna Be a Boxer’, ‘Down and Out’, ‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam’ and the title number, ‘Bugsy Malone’ back by a cool band, led by Rebecca George, from Langley School.

The principals – Bugsy (Charlie Read), Blousey Brown (Erin Halliday), Fat Sam, (Jacob Clarke), Tallulah (Alisha Giles) – were funny, talented and generated infectious enjoyment of the show excellently supported by a zany crowd of extras and minor parts.

A show of this gently satirical kind needs pace and high energy, and that these youngsters had in abundance. A thoroughly refreshing night out all

Filed under: Reviews

A Christmas Spectacular 2016

Christmas Spectacular - the Lowestoft Players' 2016 celebration

Christmas Spectacular – the Lowestoft Players’ 2016 celebration

A Christmas Spectacular
by the Lowestoft Players, in their Bethel Theatre

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 5th December 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal,  9 December 2016

Christmas, coming as it does ever earlier and ever more commercial, is likely to bring out the inner Scrooge in many of us. The Lowestoft Players’ annual spectacular seasonal variety show is the perfect antidote to that.

There is something about the warm atmosphere of the Players’ Bethel theatre, lights, effects, magnificent costumes, superb singing, dancing and comedy routines – some new, some old and some new takes on old favourites – that is heart-warming and feel-good.

Directed by Lauren Nevill and Polly Woodward, with choreography by Emily Fox and musical direction by Krista Ribbons, this year’s bumper show has a versatile and energetic main company with some impressive solos.

It’s the transitions between styles and genres that spread the goodwill – farce to poetry, Buble to contemporary twists on classics and Christmas carols with the real message of love and hope.

One regular highlight is a couple of routines from the Louise Elizabeth School of Dance and this year’s included a memorable ‘Riverdance’ rendition that rocked the whole place.

The Players have made their spectacular as essential to Christmas in Lowestoft as mince pies and presents.

 

Previous Lowestoft Players’ Christmas Spectacular shows reviewed:

2013, my first review of a seasonal spectacular for the Players.

2014, my second.

2015, my third.

 

 

 

 

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A Doll’s House

A Doll's House, like a gilded cage for Nora, the protagonist

A Doll’s House, like a gilded cage for Nora, the protagonist

A Dolls’ House
performed by Open Space Theatre group at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 21 November 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal, 25 November 2016

A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s dark classic drama, is less about a woman’s rights than her need to discover who she is without reference to men’s control and approval.

The central character played by Cathy Gill in a performance that should be shown to acting students, leaves her husband, his ‘dolls’’ house and their children in what was in the 1870s, deeply shocking.

She does this after the consequences of her own lies to cover up an intended good act begin to emerge with devastating effect and more potently, her own husband’s (excellently unlikeable Darren France) blatant hypocrisy and double standards stun her.

Peter Sowerbutts, the terminally ill friend, plays a compelling deadpan of worldly weariness, cynicism and mystery, David Blood inhabits the slightly sinister fraudster who is redeemed by love while Mia Chadwick as the friend, strikes a balance between her own needs and those of the protagonist.

They’re ably supported by Penny Martin and Ruby Potter as servants and two adorable young children.

David Green has deftly directed a masterpiece, with his eye for irony, secrets, humour and real understanding of characters the audience engages with.

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Dracula

Dracula is Bram Stoker's most famous work. Notice he was cremated, not buried!

Dracula is Bram Stoker’s most famous work. Notice he was cremated, not buried!

Dracula
presented by the Old Time Radio Club
at the Seagull Theatre,  Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 1 November 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal, 4 November 2016

Dracula was an ideal spooky yarn to mark both the Hallowe’en season and the Old Time Radio Club’s return to the Seagull Theatre.

Bram Stoker’s enduring Dracula was presented as in an old time classic radio studio style with live musical accompaniment from the show’s producer, Richard Ainslie.

The set was an interesting studio layout by Lilla Read and Harry Cooke. David Higgins made all the sound effects live and Richard Melchior wrote and took part in the compelling story.

The other performers were Chris Whiting, Lee Jackson, Becca Martin, Erin Girling, Thom Bailey and David Emerson who shared the characters with cleverly articulated voices.

The audience was invited to shut the eyes and just listen, as to a radio, but the interactions, the movement to and fro the microphones and the facial expressions were an irresistible part of the whole compelling experience.

Humour came from some authentic-sounding early radio sponsor adverts and the Dracula vault was opened in an unusual way – you could almost taste the blood and feel the stakes going in.

 

Filed under: Reviews

Hay Fever

Hay Fever was thought by Coward to be hard to act

Hay Fever was thought by Coward to be hard to act

Hay Fever performed by Yakety Yak Theatre,
at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 31 October 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal, 4 November 2016

Hay Fever is the Noel Coward play he himself described as difficult to act with no plot and remarkably little action.

However, Yakety Yak successfully transform heavy stylised comedy that is rooted in the 1920s into a timeless gem.

Set in the bohemian house of the Bliss family, each has invited a guest for the weekend without telling the others. They proceed to humiliate and generally confuse their visitors while playing startling mind games.

Agnes Lillis is the magnificent mother, a retired actress who has yet to give up over-acting and histrionics. Geir Madland is her masterfully understated husband.

Tom Scannell plays the son of the house who is a delightfully flippant but bad artist. His sister is Sophie Scannell with a touch of empathy glimpsed beneath her off-handed cruelty.

Charlotte McGuiness, Tom Guttridge, Nancy Paul, George Eddy as guests and Mary Hunt, the maid, brilliantly turn their bewilderment and trivial lives into comic gold.

Collectively the ensemble sustains a cracking pace that sparkles with Coward’s verbal comic repartee and some excellent physicality.

All in all it’s a deliciously, ripping evening of pure pleasure.

 

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Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde gets new twist on dark tale

Jekyll & Hyde gets new twist on dark tale

Jekyll & Hyde and Nerve, two one act plays performed by Reverend Theatre Productions at the Bungay Fisher Theatre

This review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 15 October 2016

Jekyll & Hyde, the much-loved classic gothic horror tale from the pen of Robert Louis Stevenson, has long been a rich source of dramatic ideas from the dark side of the human soul.

In this contemporary take on madness and pressure, Reverend Theatre brought to life four characters (a surgeon, her new neighbour, her brother and his carer) experiencing the consequences of sexuality, claustrophobic space and the unbearable pain of one slowly dying from motor neurone disease.

After Jekyll & Hyde the same performers presented another short play, Nerve, set in a flat with unusual characters – an edgy youngster, her pregnant friend, a lodger and a police officer. It centred round dealing with the fall-out from the musical din in a nearby apartment.

Both plays – written by one of the performers, Charlie Howitt – handled contrasting tensions, unusual character developments and a real sense that all was not as it seemed and other people’s lives are twisted and unpredictable.

All credit to Bungay’s Fisher Theatre for championing new stage writing and young performers. If they return, they are well worth supporting.

Filed under: Reviews

Slyghtly Hystorical

Slyghtly Hystorical at Bungay's Fisher Theatre

Slyghtly Hystorical at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre

Slyghtly Hystorical
presented by Charmed Life at the Fisher Theatre, Bungay

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 28 September 2016

‘Slyghtly Hystorical’ was the clever comedic, theatrical, fun nonsense staged by Charmed Life Productions to mark 10 years of Bungay’s reborn Fisher Theatre.

It’s an achievement well celebrated in play that raised a host of historical people with connections to this ‘fine town of renown’ who left their footprints on Bungay.

Tim Hall played David Fisher, the impresario out of his depth trying to stage ‘Hamlet’. Dawn Briggs was an earthy Boudicca, Josh Gould portrayed martyred King Edmund and a lofty Ethel Mann while Sarah Curtis was Eliza Bonhote and the Buttercross’s justice statue.

Lawrie Hammond was a swashbuckling H Rider Haggard and painter Munnings, Mark Burridge the hilarious love-sick French Vicomte Chateaubriand with Paul Baker as the splendid Baron Bigod.

Simon Hooton was Clay’s printers founder John Childs and Joe Edmunds the cute toothless Black Dog blamed for every mishap. 14-year old Ella Thompson-Ives is one to watch for the future – she played the contemporary world-weary teenager with style and energy.

Slyghtly hystorical indeed, with elements of postmodern time manipulation, physicality and romping entertainment, this reminded us just what a gem Bungay has in its theatre.

Filed under: Reviews

Spamalot

Spamalot - lots of fun

Spamalot – lots of fun at the Lowestoft Players’ own theatre

Spamalot
by the Lowestoft Players

at the Bethel Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 12 September 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal, 16 September 2016

Spamalot, ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ movie, is a joyful feast of fun, surreal madness, random allusions from history, politics, literature, in a knock-out panto-cum-musical.

Lowestoft Players, in the run-up to their 50th anniversary, create a stunning evening out with brilliant costumes, terrific music, exquisite choreography, quality singing, professional standard direction/production and outstanding performances.

It seems unfair in such an ensemble of monks, minstrels, guards and girls of the lake to single out individuals, but Chris Darnell as King Arthur perfectly catches the buffoonery while Beth Lewis shines as the diva in a part she was born for – she is just divine, dahling!

Other star turns, many multi-roling, include Ian Carter as a Baldrick-like dogsbody; Stephen Clark, Chris Penn, Tom Guttridge and Dave Evans as the strangely assorted knights; Martyn Field as the hilarious French Taunter and Tom Holt as Not Dead Fred.

The famous number is ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ but ‘You Won’t Succeed on Broadway’, ‘Whatever Happened to My Part’, ‘I’m All Alone’ and ‘The Song That Goes Like This’ are catchy and fantastically well done.

David Porter

Filed under: Reviews

Sister Act

Sister Act from the Lowestoft Players

Sister Act from the Lowestoft Players

Sister Act at the Lowestoft Players at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 9 June 2016 and the Lowestoft Journal, 17 June 2016

Sister Act, the hit film-inspired musical, is the perfect vehicle for the Lowestoft Players’ summer show with its high energy, implausible story line that lends itself to daft comedy antics, rocky music and unadulterated fun.

It’s a team triumph for the multi-award winning Players who grab its opportunities with both hands from directors and principals to chorus/ensemble, from musicians and stage crew to the terrific dance routines, some based on Motown.

Lauren Nevill beats the challenge of the gangster’s moll who, while seeking sanctuary in a nunnery, sets the church on fire with her singing and racy ways. Judi Mars is the perfect straitlaced Mother Superior.

Hoodlum Jimmy Atkin’s sidekicks (Ian Carter, Dave Evans and Tom Holt) are hilarious. Cameos from veterans Deanne Dickson as a nun and Stephen Wilson as a monsignor are perfectly shaped. Cop Stephen Clark’s torch song is a classic.

In an ever-increasing riot of colour, the nuns’ chorus is fabulous with Beth Lewis standing out with her explosive energy and Issy Anderson as the dynamic postulant.

We are blessed that the Players make such a habit of performing brilliantly!

Filed under: Reviews