ACT in Action Issue 17


Rosie. Kat Bond, as the geriatric who refuses to act her age, had bags of comic timing. Uninhibited Holly, loosely based on early Madonna, was effectively performed by Bethany Heywood. Bethany really knows her way around a script – she is a natural comic. Enter the villain, the self-obsessed Glen Gugli. Sam Maurice was thoroughly believable as the wealthy city slicker as he extracted everything out of the script. Glen would have been more suited to Robbie’s trashy fiancée, Linda, who had jilted him at the altar. Annabelle Taylor made Linda more than just a cameo role. Sweet natured waitress, Julia, won the affections of Robbie in the “will they, won’t they” plot of finding love. Kate Shaw was utterly charming as Julia, and Nick Ward, with his powerful vocals as Robbie, soon had the audience rooting for them to get together. This was a great pairing of talent. The production had all the elements to make it a cracking show, so that a good time was had by all.

PaP Productions Director: Paul Wilson

Choreographer: Amy Walker Musical Director: Paul Lawton

This show is another successful film being made into a stage musical. I believe the storyline is all the more entertaining for its musical content. The film/musical is a throwback to the 1980s complete with ”Big Hair” and big “Shoulder Pads”. In fact, you would think you were coming to see another jukebox show. This, however, is not the case as there is a clever score which pays homage to the era. The staging was simple which allowed the drama and music to take centre stage. The lighting created the mood for the in-love-with-love story. The sound design recreated the 1980s disco sound creating a big dose of nostalgia. The director gave the strong cast free rein in order to allow the musical interpretation to be at the forefront of the drama. This music led comedy had all the original film’s charm and every crochet and quaver was crisply delivered. All the dance sequences added to the overall feel-good picture. Ensemble work is so important to the success of the presentation. Everybody involved in Robbie’s journey was a different character illustrating each episode of his emotionally filled life. The wedding singer’s bandmates, Sammy and George, are great friends with singer Robbie. Liam Bunka, with Rod Stewart locks, as Sammy, and John Dean as George found the comedy complete with Boy George hat and braids, created fun characters, with each individually having their moments. Robbie has the best of landlords, his unconventional Grandma, THE WOMAN WHO COOKED HER HUSBAND by Debbie Isitt directed by Carolanne Connolly Blackburn Drama Club I had only ever read this play by Debbie Isitt, so it was with somewhat mixed feelings I visited the Thwaites Empire Theatre to see Blackburn Drama Club’s presentation. And what a revelation this presentation proved to be. It was, to use a cliché, a knockout. It was very, very funny and in front of a large first night audience, proved to be a first-rate production. It is not often that audiences spontaneously break into applause in the middle of scenes, but on this night, they did. A review in The Times really does sum it up: “My compliments to the chef for a riveting evening”. Kenneth and Hilary have been married for nineteen years, but as middle age approaches, Kenneth finds himself in the arms of another woman. But this little fling soon gets out of hand and we become witness to an entertaining exploration of jealousy, humiliation, deceit and betrayal giving an entirely new meaning to the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Whilst the play is performed in real time, we are also treated to a series of flashbacks, all leading to the final explosive ending. Economy of language is always a measure of good writing and the mundane existence of Hilary and Kenneth’s existence is summed up in very few lines. For example; “Hilary: Have a good day at work. Kenneth: Will do. Hilary: See you at five. Kenneth: Bye now. (the door slams) Darling, I’m home. Hilary: Did you have a good day?

Kenneth: I’m exhausted Hilary: Dinner’s nearly ready”

With variations this scene, and the speed with which it was delivered, was breath-taking in its simplicity but really did highlight Kenneth’s mid-life crisis. The success of any play depends on a) the writing, b) the direction and c) an excellent cast, and with The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband we had all three. Kenneth was played by Steven Derbyshire. This aging teddy boy, with a passion for Elvis Presley, was a very successful portrayal of a man not willing to confront his future and who would cling to his youth as long as he could. Never still, in his brothel creepers, draped jacket and rock ‘n’ roll mullet, this was an excellent portrayal of a man torn between his heart and his stomach. His wife of nineteen years of marriage was Hilary, played by Joanne Shepherd. This was one of the finest performances I have seen for a long time. Joanne became Hilary, ranging from the meek little housewife looking after her loving husband, to the scheming, “I’ll get my own back” abandoned wife. Always in command of her own destiny, except when deliberately being the meek little wifey, made us be always on her side, and we wanted what she wanted, too. For me, there were echoes of Mr Humphries from Are You Being Served in the style of the walk, to the little hints of Hylda Baker. But these hints were never more than that, a hint. A superb performance. The third party in this triangle was Laura, played as a femme fatale by Neely Jillings. First as Kenneth’s affair, and then as his wife, Neely’s role of the “can’t cook, won’t clean” other woman was an excellent portrayal. Flaunting herself at every opportunity to engage with Kenneth, always in command of the situation she found herself in, and never afraid to show her true feelings, we came to believe should would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.

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