Reviews

The Grand Duke

THE problem any Gilbert and Sullivan Society faces is how to keep going with a limited number of operettas, of which just a handful are truly popular. The answer tends to be to perform the favourites frequently and to add in the more difficult over time. So it’s a brave decision and a necessary evil to perform The Grand Duke, the last written work, the least popular of the G & S canon and the one described by W S Gilbert as an “ugly mis-shapen little brat.”

Carmen

SHORT of hopping on a plane and travelling halfway round the world, the only chance most of us will have had to see this stunning production, performed on a floating stage in Sydney harbour, will have been through this Encore Satellite Broadcast. And I have a feeling that it was us, sitting in the comfort of the Regent Centre, who may have had the better deal.

Taking Steps

WHEN I heard that ASDS were performing this Alan Ayckbourn play that was completely unknown to me, I assumed that it was one of his newer ones that had only recently been released for amateur performance, and I was astounded to find that it actually dates from 1979.

Maybe the fact that it is rarely performed lies in the fact that it was specifically written to be played in the round and really would not work in a traditional proscenium arch situation. Although this production is not actually played in the round, the layout of the De La Salle allows all the audience to clearly see the whole stage and, most importantly, the floor.

G I Joe In Dorset

WHEN I’ve been asked to review productions in the past, I usually find that I have some sort of familiarity with the show even if it is just very vague; it could be the show as a whole, or just the writer, perhaps. Maybe it has been made into a film or it could even be as slender as a famous one line quote or a song. Either way, something allows me some sort of connection.

Changing Fortunes

IT is said that “to hail an actor ‘skilled’, because he remembered all his lines would be to hail a poet ‘skilled’ because all his words were spelt correctly.” Even if I could, in this case, confirm that all Bulloch’s words were spelt correctly, any dramatic atmosphere they imbued was sadly compromised by the inability of the majority of tonight’s players to learn their lines.

What Would Jane Say?

THERE can be few 18th century authors whose works are still as well read as those of Jane Austen and, thanks to film and TV, even non-readers are familiar with her novels and the period about which she was writing. Now, using some of Miss Austen’s own words together with some very modern technology, Trisha Lewis becomes Jane in this short but amusing new play by Peter John Cooper that transplants her into 21st century England.

Deprogrammed

THIS group’s intention is to explore new writing and challenging ideas and it certainly does that with this most unusual and rather dark play, which has been skilfully written by Richard Batt and Garry Skimmins.

Deprogrammed is the story of the kidnapping and brainwashing of Max, a young man caught up in a religious cult, Souls 4 Jesus. His parents can't help him, his girlfriend barely escaped alive from the cult’s clutches. He is beyond the reach of normal people. But John Morse is not a normal person, and his very special skills are the only thing that can stop Max losing everything, including his mind.

Big Screen To Broadway

WHAT an inspired idea to combine popcorn and programme! The audience was certainly excited before the curtain even went up and the atmosphere continued to be lively all evening.

This kind of high energy performance suits this group. There is a wealth of young talent here and it is obvious from the enthusiasm coming across that everyone works terrifically hard, physically and emotionally. It was a pleasure to see the depth of focus which gave a very slick performance. There was no sense of spotting the individuals who seemed out of place because all seemed committed and well within comfort zone.

Joined

I must be honest: my heart sank when the Boss told me that my next assignment was to review ‘a new romantic comedy by a local playwright’. I cheered up a bit when I learnt that the playwright in question was Les Clarke, because I knew that he has written for reputable local companies including P&P and the Broadstone Players as well as BLTC. So in the event were my fears proved groundless?

Plays 'n' Chips

THE Players’ evening of one-act plays with fish and chips clearly gives the public what they want, as evidenced by the fact that what began as just one evening’s entertainment has, over the years, stretched to four such evenings.

It’s a good concept, giving priority of casting to new members while allowing existing members to try their hand at something they haven’t tried before, such as directing. Invariably, of course, some old hands are part of the acting mix if there are not enough newcomers, and ‘new’ does not necessarily mean inexperienced as those people may only be new to that company, not to performing. As a result, the end product is generally pretty impressive, as is the fact that everyone was eating their fish and chips within five minutes of the curtain coming down on the first play.

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