ACT in Action Issue 17
lit well and the sound, although the mic’s were a little to open at the beginning, aided the performers. Costumes, hair and make-up were all in period. Musically it was the overall visual effect, not the individual numbers, that drove the show. There are spicy lyrics and a lot of fruity language creating the core of the piece, and it would not have worked without any of it. The music was more than just a pastiche of the 1960s but musical director and conductor, Caitlin Sherwood, captured David Arnolds’s score to evoke the period. Likewise, the choreography was like watching a rerun of “Ready, Steady, Go!”, the company engaged with the 60s movement and delivered it well. The director had the unenviable job of recreating both the male dominated sexism of the factory environment, and, at the same time, the strong feminist message. The fluent dramatic delivery was so important to the overall effect but both elements came across strongly, The assembly line of boiler-suited male workers and machinists had such energy and enthusiasm. Laura Johnson (Claire), Georgia Brooksbank (Sandra) Emily Austin (Cass) Dian Quinlivan Hurst (Beryl) and Jaqui Burges (Connie) had a lot of fun creating memorable characters none of whom were not over abrasive but were more than just supporting roles. The lively script well served by the punchy, dominated, all male personnel, Managing Director Hopkins, played by Steve Hart, and Martyn Bernado as the American boss, Mr Tooley. Gemma Da Silva played Hopkins middle class wife, Lisa, who believed in equal rights for women and works with the strikers to prove that class has nothing to do with equality. This array of crisply drawn characters was brought to life, creatting impact to this heart-warming story. On the political front we meet Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and the secretary of State, Barbara Castle. Joey Wiswell, as the PM worked the comedy and the Pythonesque “Silly Walk” number with his ministers was well received. Debbie Allen, as the “fiery–as-her-hair” MP from Blackburn, gave an assured, memorable performance. The reluctant activist, Rita O’Grady, who led the strike, addressed the T.U.C. and thus put her marriage in jeopardy. Catherine Baddeley breathed life into Rita in her quest to stand up for women workers. Rita’s husband. Eddie. cannot come to terms with his wife’s ideology. Ben Obeid-Findley gave a natural and sincere portrayal of their domestic situation. Completing the O’Grady household are their children. Graham and Sharon. convincingly played by George Avraam and Emily Murison. This show is uplifting, It was a “Stand Up” for the fight of a bunch of women paving the way for legislation on equal pay. THE WOMAN WHO COOKED HER HUSBAND by Debbie Isitt It is unusual for me to visit, as I have done, two productions of the same play within a few short weeks, but it was also interesting to see how two different directors, and two different casts were to present Debbie Isitt’s surreal black comedy. Told through a series of flashbacks interspersed with “the last supper”, the play is a highly entertaining exploration of jealousy, humiliation, deceit and betrayal. Kenneth (Mike McKeown) and Hillary (Marina Butterworth) have been married for almost twenty years but Kenneth has been having an affair with Laura (Tess James), a younger, vibrant free spirit. Life seems perfect for Ken, but, eventually, his double life, and his efforts to juggle that double life. begin to unwind. Marina Butterworth’s portrayal of the super-housewife was excellent. Every nuance, from doting wife to super cook and homemaker, was finely tuned. For me, this was one of Marina’s very best performances. directed by Gordon Ingleby Colne Dramatic Society
Mike McKeowan, the Elvis loving, ageing rocker, complete with draped jacket and ruched shirt, gave a very energetic performance ranging from the doting husband to the party animal and would-be Lothario, and later the man whose whole world was to become an ordeal. Tess James was the “bit on the side” and later second wife in this love triangle. She was a party animal for whom anything domestic such as cleaning and cooking was anathema to her as long as she could have sex, and lots of it, and also lots and lots of parties. She gave a very assured portrayal of the “other woman”. The interplay between her and Mike provided many of the laughs as this story unfolded. The set, designed by John Mills and Joe Midgley, proved to be ingenious. This is a play where there are, effectively, two settings and, ideally it needs a wide playing area so that the two houses are clearly defined. The playing area at the Little Theatre is tiny but because it had two doorways SR, one for Hillary and one for Laura, and the ingenious use of lighting by Richard I’Anson, we were always aware in which house we were. All the props were mimed. Congratulations to the cast for creating the illusion of wine glasses, knives, etc. The sound plot, by Paul Thompson, using the music of Elvis Presley, as well as a large chunk of Rossini, was always on cue and served to highlight the humour of this play. Gordon Ingleby provided his cast, and his audience with a very entertaining evening at the theatre. Congratulations to everyone involved with this presentation. Thank you for your very warm welcome. I look forward to your forthcoming production of “The Man from Earth”. NEVILLE’S ISLAND by Tim Firth directed by Simon Griffiths Worsley Intimate Theatre. It is some considerable time since I last saw this play, which was very popular and much produced by amateur theatre groups at the time, so I was looking forward to renewing my acquaintance and re-living any memories still there. It was obvious from the word “Go!” that we were dealing here with experienced actors and that there was a guiding hand on all that went on this night on your stage. Individuality came through and was allowed for in the physical business, in the timing, in the expressions and in many other ways. However, another light which shone through this production was the spirit of team playing – both factors implicit and necessary in this particular story and surely, here we saw the mark of a director who held the reins and drew in, or let go as required; contribute a touch here and there as and when needed, to finally show an amalgam of the lot. In tonight’s play, we were fortunate and somewhat blessed to be presented with the work of a director who had used the considerable individual skills of his actors and their ability to work for, with and against the other three members of the team with their heart-felt support to create the quite memorable story that they did,.
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