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David Porter » Entries tagged with "Sewell Barn Theatre"

The Thrill of Love

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 … Read entire article »

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Copenhagen at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 18 July 2015 Michael Frayn’s 1998 play is based on a secret 1941 meeting in Copenhagen between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. It’s a gripping drama – what really went on when they talked? Danish Bohr (Kevin Oelrichs) and German Heisenberg (Rob Tiffen) had been friends before the war; now Denmark was occupied by the Nazis who were looking to beat the allies to the atomic bomb. The non-linear play is a clever construct set after their deaths as Bohr’s wife, Margrethe (Jane de la Tour) helps the men rehearse various ‘drafts’ of what could have been discussed and its profound consequences. Politics and physics, friendship and trust, idealism and reality intertwine in an evening that the actors handle with … Read entire article »

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Caligula at the Sewell Barn Theatre Review published in Eastern Daily Press, 11 April 2015 Generally held to be from Albert Camus’ ‘absurd phase’ of philosophical thinking, Caligula demonstrates a disconnection between aspiration and reality while condemning dictatorship/power but not in an agit-prop way. It’s a thoughtful and considered treatment currently being presented in the Sewell Barn’s intimate closeness as we watch aghast as the all-powerful, God-like Roman emperor Caligula disintegrates. Joe Darbyshire captures escalating madness underpinned with a terrifying logic in a consummate performance, as he murders at whim – ‘it’s no more immoral to steal openly than to inflict taxes on people.’ He is ably supported by terrified ‘yes’ men who finally fight back from fear and humiliation while his sinister sidekick (David White) and his aging mistress (Ginny Porteous) bring different shades to … Read entire article »

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Much Ado About Nothing

Sewell Barn Theatre Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 11 October 2014 Stage rom-com brings the smiles Often considered one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies with serious issues and no deaths, Much Ado About Nothing is a good choice for this talented, lively company. Purists might argue at the decision to stage it in a contemporary media office instead of as soldiers, but it works. The play centres around two young couples. When gossip, rumour and some comical over-hearing threaten the marriage of Hero (Sabrina Poole) and Claudio (Ben Sheridan), subterfuge by friends and family is needed. Benedick (Joe Trewellard) and Beatrice (Laura Landamore) are tricked into confessing their outwardly denied love and all is finally well. Dogberry (Jeff Price) and his security team present some effective Shakespearian clowning. It is a large cast and other characters … Read entire article »

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Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down

Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down Sewell Barn Theatre Review published in Eastern Daily Press, 5 April 2014 Norwich is blessed with many performance venues, but the welcoming Sewell Barn is an overlooked gem. This play makes a visit essential. Staged at very short notice after the scheduled one had to be cancelled, this south Yorkshire narrative about local community tragedies during the 60s to the 70s is well judged, immaculately timed and paced. Talented Michelle Montague directs with deftness and flair what is a series of interlinked monologues with life’s experiences, growing up, disillusionment, humour, tragedy and the period brought to life in the crucible of the stage. Charlotte Pound, Alice Haskell and Louise Waller superbly play women intimidated by the dark figure of a violent womaniser, finally wreaking their terrible revenge. This is compelling … Read entire article »

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Entertaining Angels

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 7th December 2011.   There is always an excited first night buzz of anticipation at the Sewell Barn, as the audience climb up to share the most intimate stage in the region. Nobody was disappointed. One one level it’s simply a well-crafted play. The widow of a village clergyman is struggling in the aftermath of his death, with her sister home from abroad, her daughter and the young woman who is to be the new vicar. The humour from situation and character is spot on, the Bible and Christian references apt and telling. However, secrets unearthed, painful truths revealed, and the fact that she can still see and talk to her departed man, put it on a higher level altogether. Mandy Kiley gives a stunning … Read entire article »

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My Mother Said I Never Should

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 11 June 2011. A play about mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, spanning four generations is an ambitious task to make believable. This one is totally absorbing and a masterpiece of writing. The narrative moves effortlessly from the early 20th century when the woman who is to become the grandmother (generation one) is born, to the late, when the baby (generation four) arrives. The tale hangs on the decision of the mother (generation three), single, to give up the baby to be raised by her mother (generation two) to make a career for herself, with the repercussions following as the years take their toll. High energy, superb timing and pace are sustained by the four women throughout. In age order down, Jenny Hobson, Ginny … Read entire article »

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Dangerous Corner (2)

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Dangerous Corner Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 17th July 2010 “What a cosy little group we are…” is how we meet the close-knit, smug circle in the 1930s drawing room who are about to undergo a dissecting exercise of their lives. It’s J B Priestley’s first “time” play. If radio music had come on as intended earlier, then the characters would not have found that a cigarette-box opened up like a mini-Pandora’s Box, a sequence of memories, lies and betrayals. It’s a device much copied on film and stage since. This is the final offering of the season by the accomplished Sewell Barn company, directed perfectly by Nigel Coates in the tight, intimate space. A cracking cast maintain pace, accents and sense of period, bringing the piece alive, although … Read entire article »

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Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press 20th February 2010 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean A reunion of once like-minded people is going to be fraught with truths, twists, self-delusions and secrets from closets. The Disciples of Jimmy Dean come back to the run down Five and Dime store twenty years after his death, and find not only is the past a different world, but the future will never be the same. It’s the latest adventurous production at the Sewell Barn, where Clare Howard is directing a clever piece of stage writing full of bitter-sweet humour and revelation, hanging on whether a young fan slept with Jimmy Dean, or was it the boy who loved her and she never accepted it, nor that the resulting child is … Read entire article »

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Dracula Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press,  16 January 2010 On a grim, dark winter night with the current interest in vampires from Twilight films and books, this is an apt and weirdly appealing new piece from the Sewell Barn. Surprisingly, from the pens of John Godber and Jane Thornton, it’s not a rip-roaring belly laugh from start to finish. Those familiar with Teechers, Bouncers and Shakers would expect social comment with ironic twists and multi-roling. Instead we have a serious love story – centred in the horror genre with bits of mock philosophy and the power of evil thrown in. The company tackle it with energy, slowly raising temperature as Dracula’s passion for young women, the almost sexual pleasure both receive from his deadly kiss, emerges. Peter Daniel is the impressive, irresistible Dracula, while the aptly named David Blood is … Read entire article »

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