Truly exceptional performances with remarkably seamless character changes
I love traditional English pubs and I love theatre. So to be sat in an auditorium on the edge of a pint-pulling on-stage bar was a real treat. Incidentally, witnessing Sean McKenzie and Jo Mousley skillfully and convincingly play every single one of the diverse adult characters in Jim Cartwright’s play, whilst having my emotions swayed this way and that way, was also a real treat. So, if you appreciate proper-like, down-to-earth, well-paced and very real plays you wont be disappointed with this highly entertaining and wholesome production.
Brought to the Derby Theatre stage by Sarah Brigham, and directed by Julia Thomas, the play represents a generous slice of working-class life. Set in the 80's it features a host of diverse characters each having a story or situation to share. Cartwright playfully engages the listener with his very true to life, honest scenarios as the action takes place during one night in a pub in the North of England. A roller coaster of emotions unfolds as dozens of regulars pull up a stool, these characters typifying the courage that results from their decisive commitment to face up to the setbacks of life.
This peek into pub culture portrays reality and the complexities to which many of us may find parallels. And here we find two people, a Landlord and Landlady, who love each other and yet for the past seven years have been in the habit of sweeping problems under the carpet. We meet the pub's clientele including the old lady who, disillusioned with the responsibility of love, savours a pint before returning to care for her sick husband, the old man who meets his dead wife's spirit, Fred and Alice who have been "unlucky in life but luckyish in love", a woman incognito on the lookout for her married lover and a number of colourful, controlling, submissive and sometimes rather insane characters.
The stunningly inviting set design by Ali Allen is brought to life by Tim Skelly's lighting scheme which is complimented with a well-planned soundscape by composer and sound designer Adam McCready.
With truly exceptional performances by Sean McKenzie and Jo Mousley who jump in and out of character within seconds to create remarkably seamless changes, complimented by great comedy timing and top notch actor ability, this production neither misses or requires a full cast, as such. And a well deserved pat on the back to the Young Company, Tom Cross, Christopher Johnson and Dylan Smith who, in turn, have played the part of the young boy featured towards the end of the play.
A great evening of entertainment. Light hearted but leaves you thinking.
Runs to 24 March. Contains adult themes (over 14s)
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