We joined Manor Musical Theatre Company for their final performance of this classic musical reworking of The Taming of the Shrew and it was great to see the whole company going full-out to make the most of their final show, with fine performances across the board.
For me, Kiss Me, Kate itself is now looking a bit dated and would benefit from a reworking for modern audiences. Originally appearing on Broadway in 1949, Cole Porter’s show perfectly addressed the post-war era of unease and readjustment as gender balances at home and in the work place began to undergo massive change. Against the current backdrop of gender equality, the concept of taming women jars somewhat; although the musical does go further than Shakespeare’s original text in terms of portraying the ‘taming’ of the male characters. Just as directors of contemporary productions of the Shakespeare have toyed with whether the ‘Shrew’ of the title is really Kate or Petruchio, with a little trimming of the score and reworking of libretto Kiss Me Kate could easily be transformed into a show that speaks volumes to contemporary audiences.
Cole Porter’s score is of course crammed full with many of his well-known songs, echoing the changing era of the late 1940s with operatic ballads set against jaunty, jazz numbers and character songs that harked back to the old Music Hall days. Manor’s orchestra, under the expert leadership of Musical Director Peter Bushby, really brought the varied score to life, complimented by a great use of sound by the technical team, who achieved an excellent balance of music and vocals in the tricky acoustic of Sutton Coldfield Town Hall.
There are excellent vocal performances across the board, with the men’s chorus particularly standing out for their tight harmonies. Leading the cast, Susan Bushby (Lilli Vanessi/Kate) and Barry Styles (Fred Graham/Petruchio) handle both the operatic and more charismatic songs deftly; each displaying an impressive range both musically and in terms of their characterisation. As Lois Lane/Bianca, Rebecca Perry gives a near-show stealing performance of ‘Always True To You in My Fashion’ – a particular highlight in her performance which shone throughout the evening and even a mishap with lyrics could not deter from the endearing rendition of ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from gangsters Lynne Ridge and George Fletcher.
There are strong contributions throughout from Roger Inigo (Paul), Beth Hooper (Hattie), Patrick Stevenson (Bill) and Andy Hooper (Hortensio) as the supporting principal cast, and when they lead the chorus in group scenes they really pull the whole show together.
More than anything the company camaraderie and collective enjoyment of this performance was evident right up to the final curtain and it made us leave the theatre commenting on how being part of such a warm theatrical family is indeed ‘Wunderbar’!
Noël Coward, a writer famously known for his wit, sophistication and elegance has created some of Britain’s well known plays throughout the 20th century which have stood the test of time. Blithe Spirit has been considered one of his greatest examples, having most recently played in the West End with Angela Lansbury, and this marvellous production by Union Theatre shows exactly why it is considered so. In an age where scepticism and the rise of fake mediums and TV psychics are prevalent in debate, Coward’s writing sits just as well with an audience of today and it shows that Coward was perhaps a bit ahead of his time. Also the play itself is delightfully funny with a few darker twists and unexpected turns which make each scene more exciting than the last and this production is brilliantly delivered and presented thanks to the efforts of director Mark Firmstone.
Alex Butler gives a terrific performance as Charles Condomine, the novelist who begins to hallucinate his late first wife following a dinner party séance. Complete with a typical Noël Coward styled robe, Butler excellently allows his character to dive into insanity at most times, whilst maintaining a sense of normality and charm about him. Victoria Ellery-Jones is sensational as Ruth, Charles’ current wife, who plays the character as initially chatty, optimistic and positive, but goes through a slight transformation into sarcastic and hilariously bitter when Charles’ condition begins to affect her too. The pair of them make a remarkable and believable aristocratic couple, providing excellent comedy in their supernatural situation.
Julie Moore is marvellous as the spectre, Elvira who comes to haunt the Condomines. Moore has a glorious personality but absolutely highlights the mischievousness that the character possesses as she moves around all corners of the stage, causing trouble to the living characters and also has some great sarcastic one-liners. Jackie Justham also is delightful as the almost bonkers Madame Arcati, the clairvoyant, who enjoys some crazy dancing and actions to ignite her powers and gleefully celebrating her success of the séance. They are also joined by a terrific supporting cast of Lloyd Hopkins as the cynical Dr. Bradman, along with Dominic Wilson and Jamie Moore as the also cynical but hilarious Vivian and Rupert. Belinda Piasecki also is wonderful as Edith, the maid struggling to get to grips with her job, but eventually saving the day.
The Solihull United Reformed Church has been brilliantly transformed into the living room of the Condomine’s with minimal props and furniture (with a few ghostly tricks going on!), and goes through scene and lighting transitions underscored by the talented pianist/Musical Director John Gough providing the upbeat, joyous music of the early 20th century. Overall, these elements combined with Coward’s witty writing and this excellent company of actors, make the play as great as any professional production and it is a fabulous achievement by Union Theatre.
Blithe Spirit runs at the Solihull United Reformed Church until Saturday 28th April.
Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre
An electrifying standing ovation says it all.
Lichfield Cathedral plays host to Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre’s magnificent performance of Les Miserables this week, the Gothic-styled cathedral being a most incredible background for this iconic musical.
First published in 1862, Victor Hugo’s historical novel is still considered one of the greatest of the 19th century. The story follows the lives and interactions of many characters but focuses on the life of ex-convict Jean Valjean as he is transformed from a criminal into a paragon of virtue. The novel itself is indeed an epic, divided into five volumes, and elaborates upon the history of France, moral philosophy, religion, justice, injustice and, of course, love. The story has since been adapted for stage, television and big screen, and the songs and music in this musical adaptation, composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, are now just as famous as Hugo's story. LMYT deliver this musical to the stage powerfully and with total conviction.
Established in 1985, LMYT has a reputation for excellence, having won awards and gained critical acclaim, and this performance of Les Miserables should surely win them another. With first class performances by the principal cast, and superb supporting ensemble, the production flows beautifully with full attention to detail at every step. I was delighted to witness a sterling portrayal of Jean Valjean by Adam Pritchard. Adam's stage ownership and confidence was apparent and his singing voice and vocal range absolutely thrilling with a particular highlight being Bring Him Home which was delivered to the audience flawlessly. Nathan De Giorgi plays the primary antagonist Inspector Javert with assurance, again treating us to outstanding vocal performances including his very powerful delivery of Soliloquy. Hattie Rumsey plays the young, orphaned, working-class Fantine in a manner that could not better, with just the right amount of grace and humility, and her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream was enchanting, sending ripples of emotion throughout the cathedral. Lovely to see Ethan Bowley performing in this show. This young man goes from strength to strength, having watched him perform more recently in The Full Monty. His portrayal of street-boy, Gavroche, isn't far from the portrayal by Daniel Huttlestone and Ethan captures the personality, optimism and energy of the character.
Cosette, as the grown-up daughter of Fantine, is played by experienced soprano Ella Fellows-Moore and what an absolute delight she is to witness - graceful, gentle and powerful, a perfect casting to play opposite Dominic Sterland as Marius, the suitor of Cosette who, believing Cosette is lost to him, joins the rebellion. Dominic, again, demonstrates a powerful and perfect vocal, a particular highlight in the show being the duet A Heart Full Of Love. Eponine, a once spoiled and pampered child who later appears as a unkempt and impoverished teen, is played by Sophie-Rose Dickinson who delivered her beautiful and expressive vocal, giving the audience an emotional run for their money with her rendition of A Little Fall Of Rain. Jonah Sercombe plays Enjolras - the charismatic leader of the rebellion. A strong, powerful figure, with a deep and authoritative voice, Jonah is convincing as he devotes himself to the revolution and his republican ideals.
The secondary antagonists, the Thenardiers, are played humorously by Grace Willis and Ollie Willett in similar style to Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter but with their own wickedly delicious stance. With a highly entertaining performance of Master In The House they play the comedy characters brilliantly, providing some comic relief from the generally more serious tone of the story. Younger principals Polly Tyndall (Little Eponine) and Maisie Chatfield (Little Cosette) both gave wonderful, confident performances and Maisie's rendition of Castle On A Cloud was truly captivating as the audience held onto every word.
Excellent performances from the ensemble who portrayed a colourful picture of pimps, sailors, robbers, ladies of the night and other dubious characters, as they assisted with the well choreographed, transitional scene changes, adding to the volume and harmony of song and creating the all important crowds of workers, revolutionists, and bar drinkers. With a dramatic and spirited lighting design, excellent seventeen piece orchestra and big budget costume set this show was superbly directed by Julie Mallaband, conducted by Oliver Rowe and passionately choreographed by Jemma Tiso.
You'll be very lucky to get a ticket!
Runs to 28th April
Glitter, feathers, drag queens. It can only mean one thing, Priscilla is in town and it’s bold, bright and beautiful. WBOS never fail to impress with their productions and Priscilla was no different. It was hard to believe that this was an amateur production, because there was nothing “amateur” about it. Every single person on that stage delivered a performance of the absolute highest standard and it could easily be mistaken for a professional UK tour.
As soon as the three divas descended, the audience knew they were in for a treat. Featuring hit after hit, you can’t help but be swept along by this uplifting musical. Niamh Allen, Sarah Moors and Tasheka Coe were faultless throughout. Harmonies were tight, vocals dazzled and they brought the sass.
Telling the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman who embark on a trip to Alice Springs for a drag show engagement, the tale sees them find more than they bargained for along the way. The trio of Tye Harris (Tick/Mitzi), John Wetherall (Bernadette) and Zac Hollinshead (Adam/Felicia) was glorious. Harris was wonderful as the loveable Tick and Hollinshead dazzled as Adam, whilst John Wetherall brought a beautiful honesty to his performance. This trio carefully balanced comedy and portrayed some intensely poignant moments exceedingly well.
There was some great support from Simon Pugh as Bob, Katie Walker as Marion and Georgie Hodson sparkled as Benji - his duet of Always On My Mind/Say A Little Prayer with Harris was utterly captivating.
Priscilla also allows for some blisteringly brilliant cameos and WBOS continued to surprise through the night, as we were introduced to an array of hilarious characters. Elliott Mann’s Miss Understanding was a sheer joy, leaving the audience in fits of laughter, whilst Sophie Louise Johnson's newly found ping pong skills as Cynthia were a hit with the audience. Plus with Daniel Haddon’s Pastor and Trish Humphreys’ Shirley, the laughs came thick and fast.
The costumes provided by Charades Theatrical Costume Hire and the wardrobe team of Amy Pearson and Craig Smith must be applauded, alongside the Wig Mistress Pat Badger, the amount of work required to deliver this show would not have been possible without them, plus the slick stage management (led by Nick Smith) enabled the set to transform quickly without any undue pauses. Colin Wood’s lighting impressed and as I sit listing these names it’s clear to see that there wasn’t a weak link in this company; on or offstage.
Under the direction of Ben Cole, who in collaboration with Claire Flavell delivered the choreography, the time, effort and energy placed into this production is abundantly clear. The movement was clean, clever and energetic and the Midland Concert Orchestra shone under the Musical Direction of Adam Joy. In a show filled with impressive trios, Cole, Flavell and Joy are yet another, because the magnitude of this creation is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Alongside all of this, what makes this show even more special is the important message behind it all: celebrating who you are. And last night WBOS celebrated who they were in style and if the standing ovation is anything to go by, the audience were all celebrating with them.
The Priscilla bus is in town at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 28 April.
Oklahoma is undoubtedly up there with the classic musicals of all time but this evening, Studley Operatic Society breathed new life into this traditional show! The timeless melodies of Richard Rodgers were brought to life by a fantastic orchestra under the baton of Musical Director Norma Kift. It was just a pity more of the audience did not stop talking to listen to the wonderful overture.
Kevin Hirons (Director) assisted by Alison Hirons showed great attention to detail in their production. It was lovely to see an original take on several moments within the show to give it relevance to today’s audience and to keep the musical fresh and alive. I particularly liked the staging of People Will Say We’re in Love as it showed both a great relationship between the principal actors as well as bringing out an element of comedy I’d not really seen before.
The Dream Ballet was the best I have seen in any Oklahoma production – it told the story, made complete sense and was well lit with interesting and varied choreography. Donna Rhodes (Choreographer) worked wonders in scenes such as The Farmer and the Cowman, staging some excellent choreography on a small stage with a huge cast – a massive feat of planning I’m sure. The set was good but extremely large and this meant limited space in many of the scenes, but the cast coped well with this added challenge.
There were many great performances from an enthusiastic company, so the entire team should be proud of the standard of performance that they have achieved. However, I must mention some stand-out performances.
Liz Bird (Aunt Eller) was never out of character and gave such wonderfully captivating facial expressions, a real treat to watch. Paul Mitchell gave an assured performance as Curly and demonstrated excellent vocal ability, singing with an ease and confidence that suited the character perfectly. He was well matched with Sophie Hill who gave a pleasing performance as Laurey.
Adding comedy and great characterisation to the production as Ado Annie was Jessica Horabin who acted the role perfectly with the right amount of both humour and vulnerability. Alex McDonald-Smith was an excellent Will Parker who sang and danced his way confidently through the part. Further comedy was added to the production by Hugh Duck as Ali Hakim with a laugh-out-loud moment being his “Persian hello”.
I was extremely impressed by Matt Bridgwater’s portrayal of Jud Fry. His performance showed a vulnerable side to the character and made us really understand why Jud behaved as he did and made his ultimate demise more poignant. The Poor Jud is Daid duet was particularly well executed by both Jud and Curly.
Congratulations to all at Studley Operatic Society on a fresh and vibrant performance of an old-time classic.
Oklahoma runs at The Palace Theatre, Redditch until Saturday 28th April.
From the moment we heard the pre-show announcement made specially by the cast, we knew that we were in for a treat with Made in Dagenham! Based on the real-life events of the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968, this lesser-known show was a breath of fresh air to The Core stage.
“It’s an age-old story”. A quote from one of the songs from this lively up-beat score is absolutely correct! Equality, fair pay for all and standing together for what you believe in are as relevant today as they were back in 1968 and the passion that Solihull On Stage brought to the story was breath-taking. Every member of the cast worked hard as a team and told their part of the tale with conviction and expression.
Co-Directors Dani Godwin and Sarah Golby (who was also the choreographer) had clearly drilled the cast well in some imaginative staging with an extremely large cast and should be thoroughly proud of what they have achieved. The show was slick, fast-paced and energetic! The set was basic but functional and allowed for quick scene changes. Maybe there were one or two moments when the scenes could have faded into each other without the need for blackouts and stage crew but that is more a matter of personal preference.
Sue Lyons (Rita O’Grady) shone as the leader of the women strikers and showed both passion for her cause and yet a vulnerability when realising what an impact the strike was having on the lives around her. She was excellent paired with Sam Turner (Eddie O’Grady) whose performance of The Letter, both vocally and emotionally, brought the house down. It is virtually impossible to single out the excellent supporting roles of the various workers, factory girls, civil servants and management but Nichola Willetts (Beryl) added some hilarious moments, demonstrating excellent comic timing and Zoe Taylor (Clare) performed Wassname with a real sense of character. Simon Chinery (Harold Wilson) and Suzanne Brittain (Barbara Castle) were a fantastic pairing with faultless accents, comic timing and excellent characterisations whilst Adam Scott (Mr Tooley) made a few of the audience gasp with his portrayal of the rather ruthless and un-PC American boss!
Mel O’Donnell (Musical Director) led a tight band and had clearly worked hard with such a large chorus to create some excellent harmonies. Unfortunately, the balance at times between the band and singers was slightly out and some technical issues with the microphones on opening night meant that we lost some important lines and humorous punch lines. However, this did not stop the audience from being thoroughly entertained with a fresh, vibrant production of such an uplifting story.
Solihull On Stage have a real success on their hands and Made in Dagenham runs until Saturday 28th April at The Core Theatre, Solihull.
Bournville Musical Theatre Company has never been a group to shy away from some of the great musicals. Their varied repertoire is a credit to the talent the group possess and at their dress and technical rehearsal last night, it was no different. There was a palpable warmth in the auditorium and a wonderful excitement as the group brought this show to the Crescent’s stage.
As the orchestra struck up and the baton was lifted, it was clear we were in for a brilliant show. Under the Musical Direction of Chris Corcoran, the music delighted from the very first note. Corcoran’s MD’ing is always an absolute highlight and the super score swelled under his direction and talented musicians.
The energy continued to heighten as the cast took to the stage for the excitable opener Omigod You Guys. The female ensemble breathed exuberance into every lyric and dance move, precisely how you would want the show to open. Elle’s three best friends (Sophie Elle, Natalie Buzzard and Siobhan Ganley) provide a great comic trio, with solid vocals throughout; complemented well by the range of ensemble characters we meet along the way.
Phil Snowe made for a right creep as Professor Callahan. He’s such an unlikeable character and Snowe captured this well, plus he was in great voice as he delivered a threatening rendition of Blood in the Water. Claire Rough had a tough job. Not only opening the second act, but also having to sing the opening song, whilst doing some intense cardio skipping as Brooke Wyndham. Rough nailed it and her vocals were impressively strong considering she was swinging a rope around at the same time.
Elsewhere, Lily Moore’s Vivienne was gloriously cutting showing a great transition in the second act. Vivienne’s part really comes into it’s own in the second half; particularly during the title number Legally Blonde, and Moore’s voice really soared above the ensemble. Rhian Heeley’s Paulette was hilarious, showcasing her talent for comedy, with a standout moment being her Ireland (Reprise). It was lovely to see that her offstage husband played her onstage eye-candy Kyle and Adam Heeley played the role brilliantly.
There wasn’t a weak link within the principal casting, from a rather annoying and self-obsessed Warner (Peter Holmes) to the endearing and vocally impressive David Paige as Emmett; each person brought a great depth to their character. Plus, who can forget the gorgeous cameos from Tink (Bruiser) and Beefy (Rufus).
However, it was down to Chloe Turner to lead the way as Elle Woods and suffice to say, she more than impressed. A triple threat of acting, singing and dancing is essential for this role and Turner had it all. From opening to closing her focus and drive never faltered, as she confidently brought the whole show together.
Sadie Turner’s choreography was impressive, enthusiastically executed by the entire ensemble; it really lifted the show another notch. Under the assured direction of John Morrison, it’s abundantly clear that he knew this musical inside out, managing to pull out every little bit of comedy he could.
The audiences of BMTC’s Legally Blonde are surely in for a treat this week. If you’re able to grab one of the very few remaining tickets, do it now.
Legally Blonde plays at The Crescent Theatre until 28 April.
Please be aware, this review was written at the Dress / Technical rehearsal. We do not comment on anything to do with stops, starts or technical difficulties. We provide a fair review based on what we heard and saw.
Watching Funny Faces at Artrix in Bromsgrove last night the thought struck me, “Why did so many comic actors of my childhood become dependent on alcohol?”
The answer came to me when Sid James, played with great sympathy by Steve Dimmer, explained that being funny is not the same as being happy. This reminded me of something Joan Sims, portrayed in a sensitive and convincing performance by Caroline Nash, said in the first of the evening’s two plays: “…it’s a good job I’m a happy person…” This remark, spoken with a throwaway wistfulness that revealed that she was not, underneath it all, a happy person, sums up the sad lives of almost all of the stars mentioned over the course of the evening.
None of them were happy: Tony Hancock – paralytic on a London street and almost knocked over by Sid James’ taxi; Charles Hawtrey – so drunk on set he could hardly stand; Hattie Jacques – unable to control her weight and Kenneth Williams – so repressed he made his guests use a public toilet rather than the one in his flat. All spoken of with great affection by Sims and James, and all unhappy but funny.
Funny Faces is an evening of two one-act plays – ‘SIMply Joan’ and ‘Wot Sid Did’ - both one-handers, minimally staged and reliant on two strong actors who can each hold their audience for the best part of an hour. Nash and Dimmer achieve this with ease: their performances are charismatic and convincing, with both actors moving from the light of hilarious anecdotes to the shade of confronting their own weaknesses.
As Joan Sims ‘the Queen of the Carry Ons’, Caroline Nash is hugely sympathetic. Using the conceit of taking a break from the last night wrap party, she unfolds a biography that took her from RADA to BBC costume drama ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’. “I’m happy in the spotlight” she says, and certainly the packed audience in the Artrix Studio applauded most appreciatively.
Steve Dimmer shows Sid James in the hour before his final, fatal heart attack in Sunderland in April 1976. Before he even spoke we saw, through subtle make-up and well-sustained acting the ravages that booze had wrought on James – indeed he gets through the best part of half a bottle of Scotch during the play.
His is a less understated play than ‘SIMply Joan’, but Dimmer manages to show the pain beneath the jokey, matey face that James presented to the world. Of course, it is Sid’s love for Barbara Windsor that reveals the sensitive, lonely man he was. Although he appears to take nothing seriously, especially his relationships with women, he always returns to ‘Babs’, despite some pretty severe ‘warnings’ from Windsor’s gangster husband.
For many in the audience this was not the evening they had expected – no coarse jokes, only one trademark chuckle. Instead it was a thoughtful and complex explanation of how two people, both in their way national institutions, were, underneath it all, lonely and sad. Yes, there are laughs, but there are many poignant moments, none more so that when Joan Sims explains why she could not attend her close friend Hattie Jacques’ funeral.
Funny Faces is a satisfying show featuring two outstanding performances: very definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.
It says everything about Noel Coward that nearly 90 years after he wrote Private Lives (in just four days) it's still making audiences chuckle.
London Classic Theatre's production brings out the best in Coward's farcical look at the lives of two wealthy 1920s couples on their ill-fated honeymoons.
The enduring beauty of the story lies in its simplicity and Michael Cabot's decision not to meddle with Coward's original is what makes this delightful production so enjoyable. One change he does make, along with many other directors, is to carve the play into two acts rather than the original three - absolutely the right decision for a modern audience.
As Cabot says in his programme notes, the lives of the idle rich were fertile fodder for Coward. What's remarkable is that fun-poking is just as funny nearly a century later.
The first act takes place entirely on the balcony of a French hotel where Sibyl and Elyot Chase (Olivia Beardsley and Jack Hardwick) are on their honeymoon and Victor and Amanda Prynne (Kieran Buckeridge and Helen Keeley) are celebrating theirs in the adjacent room.
The newly-weds are not exactly madly in love and it quickly becomes apparent that's because Elyot and Amanda are lamenting the loss of their earlier failed marriages - to each other.
When the two see each other and share a drink their feelings are rekindled and they elope to start a fresh. In the second act the action moves to a Paris apartment to see the rather volatile results of their reconciliation.
Jack Hardwick shines as entitled chauvinist Elyot with his droning condescension and short temper and the play is at its very best in the scenes with he and Helen Keeley's temperamental Amanda Prynne.
Keeley is the star of the show. Her frantic portrayal of Amanda really captures the essence of the upper class tedium at which Coward so relished poking fun.
The pair's chemistry is excellent and the preposterous love-hate nature of their relationship is brought to life with great hilarity and vigour in the second act.
Meanwhile Olivia Beardsley and Kieran Buckeridge shine too as the unexpected victims of Elyot and Amanda's amor fou. Beardsley portrays a delightfully dim Sibyl and Buckeridge excels as the jittery Victor.
The action maintains a great pace which gets ever faster and funnier as the play reaches its ludicrous conclusion.
To appreciate Coward's masterpiece truly one has to consider the period in which it was written. In fact the play was almost censored for being too risque and reviews of the day described it as 'delightfully daring'. To a 2018 audience daring it is definitely not, but entertaining it most certainly is.
Private Lives plays at the Belgrade Theatre until Saturday April 21.
Stoke Rep Players
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote more than sixty plays in his lifetime combining both contemporary satire and historical allegory. He became the leading dramatist of his generation and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His extensive works include Pygmalion, written in 1912, which was later employed as the basis for the well-known movie My Fair Lady.
Mrs Warren's Profession was penned in 1893, and first performed in London in 1902. The play is about a former prostitute, now a madam and brothel owner who attempts to form a relationship with her daughter. It's a play about secrets - underlying a mysterious tone as every interaction and conversation seems to carry a sequence of surprises and revelations which in turn leaves the listener questioning this secrecy, the denials and corruption that would have been, in its day, cleverly disguised by upper class civility. The title may reference Mrs Warren but the story really belongs to Vivie and about how this new relationship with her mother changes her.
Directed by James Freeman with set design by Eloise Hands, the Stoke Repertory Theatre Players bring this dramatic and thought-provoking play to the stage this week.
Kitty Warren is played assuredly by Caroline Wicks who, being no stranger to the stage, shows both the strong, witty and gentle sides of Mrs Warren’s personality as she tries in vain to convince her daughter of her lifestyle and choices. Elena Fox plays Vivie Warren brilliantly and is convincing as the headstrong, sensible young woman who battles with her emotions throughout the story, keeping her moral head held high.
Hopeless romantic artist Mr Praed, played by Chris Potter, visits Mrs Warren and happens upon Vivie. His devotion to art and beauty is a contrast to Vivie's stark realism. Potter plays the part well and upholds this gentle contrast as the story unfolds.
Vivie’s love interest Frank Gardner is played by James King. Frank is the dashing and charming yet unemployed and uneducated son of Reverend Gardener (Howard Thorpe). Although Frank sees Evie as a financial and social meal ticket, King's portrayal of Gardener is admirable as he plays both an untrustworthy, immoral character but also a protective one when he defends Evie from Crofts.
The plot deepens as we discover Reverend Gardner's history with Mrs Warren. Thorpe plays this part perfectly as the Reverend fails to hide his true self and reveals himself to be just as immoral and as guilty as everyone else. Quintessential Victorian gentleman, Sir George Crofts (John Wicks) is Mrs Warren's business partner who surprises us with an unexpected proposal. Crofts is the antagonist - an honest yet calculating and selfish man, prepared to get his own way, later revealing a secret primarily out of spite.
Excellent and flowing performances by a strong and competent cast ensure a well paced production. The revolving stage ensures a quick set turnaround for the four acts and the beautiful gardens, home and office scenes are well dressed and a delight to see. Luxuriously costumed and very well read this is a play for lovers of great classic and reflective literature.
Runs to 21 April
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