Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

A review of ‘Stepping Out’ presented by Viva Theatre Company at The Brook, Soham

November 13, 2012

Viva Theatre Company’s production of Richard Harris’s ‘Stepping Out’ was a most welcome and entertaining diversion from our usual wintry afflictions. From the start the stage came alive, not necessarily from the tap dancing, but from the exuberance of the tap dance enthusiasts gathered for their weekly class under the directorship of Mavis (played by Mary Barnes) accompanied by the prickly pianist Mrs Fraser (Helen Hawes). As the play progressed, the characters blossomed, tensions developed, and soon we were thoroughly involved in their diverse lives and difficulties.

The script was cleverly designed and we gradually learned more about the characters and we could easily relate to the shenanigans that went on in this group of keen amateurs. Delightful one-liners were expertly timed to produce streams of laughter from the audience. Our favourite group members were all there: – The ‘superior than thou’ Vera (Esther Hiller) who managed to rile everyone with her tactless questions, comments and actions. Who else would say to the struggling plump dancer on benefits (Sylvia played by Kirsten Martin) “I used to be fat once.”?

One of the most captivating characters was Maxine (Sarah Dowd Crosby) who held the group together and soon brought Vera down to size by suggesting she take her to buy second-hand clothes. Dorothy (Tracey Summers) and her bike, the shy down-trodden Andy (Lesley Wood), the highly entertaining Rose (Radha Cardwell), the brave sole male in the troupe Geoffrey (Scott Robertson) and two Sugar Plum Fairies (Claudia Stein-Carr and Sue Lord) completed the dancers.

The success of this production came from a sense of team cohesion and realistic dialogue and responses that were no doubt encouraged and developed by the Director Annie Cook. The production was also assisted by Stage Manager David Moat, Choreographer Lizzie Bendall and Followspot Operator Lou Murray. This was indeed a wonderful show. I eagerly await the next Viva production.


Review of Cell Talk in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 23rd July 2011

July 26, 2011

The south transept in Ely Cathedral was the ideal setting for a mesmerizing production of Cell Talk by Cameo Theatre Company. The play by Dana Bagshaw is so well written and this company acted so well that the dramatization of the meeting of two religious women in the early fifteenth century became as alive and meaningful as any drama set in current times.

Margery Kempe (played by Tricia Peroni) was the much troubled wife and visionary apt to get into difficulties as she threw herself into her world always struggling to deal with her past while fervently wishing to satisfy her strong religious desires.

John Kempe (Ken Eason), Margery’s long-suffering husband, accepted his secondary role with good grace and did much to add to the humour that was often present. His down to earth, compliant personality helped to steady Margery and her far-reaching ideas, although she finally managed to separate herself from her marriage bed and go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome. As the characters aged, the tables were turned and it was Margery who decided to see to her husband’s aging needs.

Julian of Norwich (Rosemary Eason), a devout woman of considerable wisdom contrasted well with the lively Margery and their meetings became a rich source of shared experiences that enlightened and enlivened their lives.  Few topics were spared: marriage, religion, politics and sensuality were all issues that were aired. We were introduced to a period with which we had little or no connection but threat of the burning of Lollards (people who questioned the authority of the church), and the effects of the Black Death created additional tension to this captivating plot.

Music played a significant part of the production. Voices and instruments from the period matched perfectly the staged performance.

Director Wendy Walford is to be congratulated for such an excellent production that was a fitting tribute to the fine tradition set up originally in conjunction with Rex who is sadly missed.


Review Bassett by The King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely Wednesday 9th March 2011

March 16, 2011

Two very appropriate plays were chosen for this fine company of young players to perform in the Hayward Theatre recently:

Bassett is a play by James Graham set in the now Royal village of Wootton Bassett, known for its support of our fallen heroes from the Afghanistan war and For We Are Many which was also about war in the form of an adaptation of the ancient Greek tale of the fate of women in the Fall of Troy.

The actors gave confident and often spirited performances that were credible and entertaining.

In Bassett a group of teenagers locked in a classroom over the dinner break create and develop their own tensions and battles. The funeral procession of a fallen hero from Afghanistan in town and his connections with the youngsters brings home to them the realism of war, its provocation and its effects.

Leo (played by Rob Archer) was an impressive lead character who finally flipped as the classroom tensions finally came to a head. Graeme (Tony Lesmeister) stuttered magnificently, his awkward movements and tentative suggestions creating an unmistakable classroom nerd who changed from a nonentity to a hero when he used his laptop and the class DVD projector to display the all-important funeral procession. Another fine portrayal was Alec Prieto’s ‘Spencer’ whose sense of justice and the right thing to do gave him courage to stand up to the bullying Leop and become a hero himself. The backchat of the girls and the awkwardness of the adolescent boys brought alive a host of other excellent characterizations: Dean (Zach Binge), Shanti Sally Cheng), Kelly (Bryony Ding), Joanne (Megan Gilligan), Aimee (Johanna Going), Russell (Toby Hill), Lucy (Tegan Howlett), Jonathan (Matthew Levy), Zoe (Tori McIrvine) Rachel (Yaya McIrvine) and Amid (Dean Tarrant Raja).

In For We Are Many cohesive choruses underpinned moments of dramatic and sometimes gruesome reality that occurred after an ignominious defeat in war. The plight of women and children in wars was brought home with some vigour and sincerity by the performers. The main characters were: Hecuba (played by Emma Jones), Andromache (Bea White), Cassandra (Darcie Casey), Chorus leaders Ruth Scott and Natalie Yeung, Athene (Jack Spoor), Poseidon (Rowland Daniel), Tal (Rory McCorquodale) and their performances were enhanced by vital contributions from the chorus and soldiers.

Bassett was part of the National Theatre’s New Connections Festival which encourages the involvement of young people in theatre, on and off stage. The King’s Company will be taking Bassett to the Norwich Playhouse on Wednesday 4th May as part of the Regional Connections Festival. Mr. Luke Kernaghan, the National Theatre’s Connections director for this region, attended the first night of the King’s Company performances and gave the cast feedback afterwards.

A forthcoming event well worth attending will be a visit by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the King’s School Ely on Tuesday 24th May.

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