Friday, May 22, 2009

Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court

How did you celebrate Norway's win in the Eurovision? If you had a few friends round for an ironic party, I hope it went better than Lee's, the subject of Jonathan Harvey's grim comedy. Jim Hutchon was at the Old Court ...

This is a rather 'bitty' play which starts at a gallop then fades into the remains of the day. Notionally about a group of ‘friends’ gathered for a night of watching the Eurovision Song Contest, it is really about making and breaking relationships. Director Joe Kennedy had his work cut out to make something meaningful of the play – which he did - with the sterling efforts of a dedicated and disciplined cast.

Alastair Robinson was strong and believable as the lynch pin grieving over the death of his lover Michael, while Steve Holding, as the neighbour, made his gay plays to all and sundry in a funny and touching performance. Joanna Gent and Catherine Bailey were positive and forceful as the women who got it together eventually. Ben Fraser acted the straight actor with conviction and David Woolford fooled his way through the play with some fine slapstick timing. Key to the action was the outrageously camp Robert Bastian flouncing his way through with a beautifully balanced mix of bravado and insecurity.

Though there were some lost laughter lines through gabbling, the mix of scouse and London accents held up well. The production succeeded in telling the story, though its habit of raising issues then not addressing them was irritating.


John Richardson said...

Slightly uneven performances, play also uneven.

Robert playing Robert but isn't it more difficult to play someone nearer to your own character. He's totally at ease on stage with lovely glances ... and happy to capitaise on the 'unknown' - the peanut on his chest episode was sheer delight !

For me the 'star' billing goes to Alistair as Lee .. always very comfortable on stage and not obviously 'acting' !

On the 'carping front', had some difficulty 'hearing', which is to say we 'heard' but didn't understand the words .. this from David Woolford as Roy and from Ben Fraser as 'Nick'.

I dislike 'things' that look awkward .. why did Catherine (Tania) have to smoke .. she OBVIOUSLY doesn't normally and it showed .. and her girl on girl kiss was not at all natural or easy on the eye ...

The exit stage left meant that everyone looked as if they were crabs going off that way. Perhaps the director should have made everyone practise HOW to make it look uncramped !

I know there sound loads of carping but I DID laugh a lot !

Rich willis said...

This was a tricky play from an audience point of view as it felt as if it never really went anywhere. In spite of fine performances from Robert Bastian and Catherine Bailey, the plot itself was somewhat lacking.

Still as the previous poster wrote - I too laughed constantly!

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