Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

WHEN people say that a production went with a bang they usually mean that it was successful and well-received. Although that was certainly the case with this production, the phrase could also be taken in its more literal sense and let's just say that there was absolutely no danger of anyone in the audience nodding off and snoozing gently until the curtain calls, not that they’d have wanted to, I’m sure.


IT isn’t far short of forty years since I first saw this show, which is based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie. I loved it then and I most certainly loved HCP’s production tonight which, to quote from a different musical entirely, is practically perfect in every way.

Oh What A Lovely War

BY pure coincidence, just two days ago I was at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East – the very place where Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop created this extraordinary show back in 1963. It came about through a collaborative team effort and that, albeit in a different way, is precisely how this production can be described, combining as it does the work of students in singing, acting, costume, theatre design, model making, make-up and scenography.  The result, now as much as I’m sure it was then, is nothing less than stunning.


IT’S surprising how little things can make a big difference, and Phoenix had clearly gone to a great deal of effort to make at least the front of the auditorium look like part of a nightclub (the main setting for the show) by having some of the seats at centrally placed tables, on which were drinks and nibbles. Marry that with the fact that the press, for fairly obvious reasons, are usually given good seats and you might have expected that we – and I’m not just talking about my own publication here – would be the lucky occupants of the seats in question. Sadly not,  so although at least one of those tables remained tantalisingly empty we found ourselves several rows back and at the side, which is really not the best position from which to review a production.

Brief Encounter

MOST classic film lovers will remember the film starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, based on a Noel Coward play, Still Life, and set mainly in the station café at Milford Junction. This has been adapted for the stage by Emma Rice. It tells the tale of two married people who meet by chance and fall in love. They know that the relationship cannot last forever but live for the moment amidst all the emotional turmoil which accompanies this impossible liaison.

Beside The Seaside

I have said this before, and I will probably say it again, but this Company is a little nugget in the local area.  This Beside the Seaside production is a compilation of 7 short scenes by 5 different authors, mainly involving 2 people, that have all been brought together within a setting on a seafront promenade – the audience being “the sea”, as it were.

The Addams Family

THE weird, wonderful and macabre world of the Addams family has barely touched my consciousness over the years, so I came to this production with little idea of what to expect but with a very open mind. By the interval I thought the entire show was barking mad and I hadn’t really changed my mind by the end, but one of the biggest compliments I can pay it is to say that I would happily have sat through it all over again. “Normal”, says Morticia, “is over-rated”. I think I agree with her, and abnormal proved to be absolutely fine with me.

Snake In The Grass

I am not normally in favour of mentioning the entire cast just so that they can see their names in print, but this was a cast of only three: Estelle Hughes, as Annabel, plays a returning émigré to Jan Smiles as Miriam, the younger sister who was left at home to look after their irascible father in his dotage until his recent demise.  Val Smith plays Alice Moody - a dismissed former geriatric nurse to the late father - who purports to have evidence to suggest that Miriam overdosed the old man on tranquillizers and pushed him down the stairs.

High Society

PROVERBIALLY speaking, familiarity can breed contempt, but the opposite is most certainly the case with Winchester Musicals and Opera Society’s delightful latest production of High Society. With so many familiar songs in the show, one barely has time to draw breath between one timeless standard and the next, and an enthusiastic opening-night audience lapped it all up gratefully.

A Little List Of Gems

BOURNEMOUTH Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society are always trying out new ideas for their concert season and their latest is a Little Gem indeed.  Written by Cherrill Ashford and beautifully directed by Claire Camble–Hutchins, the company finds itself in the waiting room of Waterloo station in 1943.  The costumes were a lavish assortment from that wartime period and certainly worked visually.  After a short announcement from the Station Master (ably performed by a very masculine Gill Linford) Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan (nicely characterised by Bernard Gardner and Alan Wilson) bumped into each other.  As the two reminisced (some of the audience questioning how this was possible since they had been dead for the last 40 years) the company re-enacted show highlights in chronological order.


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