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A Christmas Spectacular 2015

A Christmas Spectacular 2015

Lowestoft Players at the Players’ Theatre, The Bethel, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 7 December 2015 and The Lowestoft Journal, 11 December 2015

It’s a real treat to come in from the biting Lowestoft wind to the welcoming warmth of the Lowestoft Players’ own Bethel Theatre, sit back, relax and start to feel a lot like Christmas.

For their fourth Christmas Spectacular they pull out all the stops with colour, costumes, songs, dances, thoughtful readings and an enveloping aura of peace and goodwill.

Some of the humour is knockabout belly-laughing stuff; songs range from the traditional Christmas repertoire to Hallelujah, fast becoming a national favourite and the cast is a happy blend of Players’ stalwarts and younger performers.

The direction, choreography and music team of Beth Lewis, Jimmy Atkins, Louise Clarke and Francesca Warren do a stunning job placing tableaux, varying lead vocals and harmonies, smoothly and professionally.

Lighting and stage visuals are brilliant. The contribution from children and older students from the Louise Elizabeth School of Dance is outstanding.

Yes, Christmas can be sentimental, lachrymose, extravagant, a trial, hugely enjoyable, heart-warming, generous and emotional – or a mix of all these things. This show is just that – a sweet confection of fun and joy.

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The Thrill of Love

Ruth Ellis story The Thrill of Love in rehearsal at Sewell Barn

Ruth Ellis story The Thrill of Love in rehearsal at Sewell Barn

The Thrill of Love
Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Review for the Eastern Daily Press, 1st October 2015, not yet published

There’s something about sitting almost with the performers, as the audience does at the Sewell Barn, that makes everything so intimate, so absorbing.

This play packs a punch exploring the tragedy that was the life and death of Ruth Ellis. Notorious as the last woman in England to be hanged, she is superbly portrayed by Abbie Eastwood – the frail, petite platinum blonde who dreamed of Hollywood but got Holloway.

The abuse she suffered and the dying of her dreams in the reality of life in seedy nightclubs was the backstory while the police inspector-cum-narrator (James Thomson) grappled to understand the woman who shot her lover.

Her speedy confession, explanation of all the facts except how she got the gun and her rejection of a final appeal comes over with shocking clarity. Director Ginny Porteous brings out her vulnerability amidst the wheels of criminal justice which contributed significantly to the abolition of the death penalty.

Friends who care (Jen Dewsbury, Hayley Evenett and Verity Roat) catch the 1950s period with its values and struggles to support the telling of this poignant, memorable true story.

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John Newton – Amazing Grace

‘John Newton – Amazing Grace’

Saltmine Theatre, Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in Eastern Daily Press, 17 February 2014

The man who wrote the world’s most famous hymn, Amazon Grace, was John Newton (1725-1807). To state that doesn’t do justice to an extraordinary life of sea adventuring, long-life romance with his wife and finding God.

However, Saltmine Theatre have taken his story and brought it to life in a gripping drama culminating in his crowning achievement of his hymn.

In a period when the British economy depended on slavery, Newton was press ganged into the navy before working slave ships to the colonies.

When his ship was storm threatened, he cried out in wretched fear to God to be saved and became a passionate Christian believer, leading into ministry.

A parallel with the Prodigal Son was well made as Newton came home, wrote hymns, his autobiography and then became convicted of his sin in slavery.

The Saltmine company was superb, maintaining pace, history, emotion with some amusing observations about church denominations.

Richard Hasnip’s script employed dramatised narrative, building a compelling testimony of a man who was lost, found God’s grace and led countless others to the same blessing.

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