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01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Brontë’

By Richard Bowdery Playwright Polly Teale has not taken the easy option with Bronte, her third and final play to look at this remarkable literary family. Some writers might have stuck to a linear approach to tell the story of three women who wrote at a time when it was considered unfeminine to do so. Not Teale. She has interwoven characters from various Bronte novels to add a new dimension to the telling of their story: highlighting the struggle to […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Invincible’

By Mike Savill It would be very easy (and irresponsibly lazy) to write off ‘Invincible’ as one of a number of ‘Abigail’s Party’ clones that has littered the theatrical landscape since that seminal play crept out of suburban Essex in 1977. Mismatched couples getting together for an evening of ‘polite’ conversation suffused with an undercurrent of social tension (and pretension), insightful commentary on the human condition, biting comedy undercut with powerful tragedy: the ingredients are all there. Torben Betts’ play, […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’

By Peter Yolland ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ developed from the satirical BBC programme ‘Yes, Minister’ written by Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. The stage play by the same writers was produced in 2010. Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet minister in the (fictional) Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, Yes Minister followed The Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP, played by Paul Eddington, in his various struggles to formulate and enact legislation or effect departmental changes that […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Alice’

By Richard Stewart Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – along with its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There – are two of the best-loved pieces of children’s literature. They are also nonsense. Complete and total nonsense. Sounds perfect for the Youth Group then. Laura Wade’s adaptation keeps the enduring charm of the original, subjecting her Alice to a ‘greatest-hits’ of the tale’s most recognisable moments; the Tweedles, the Caterpillar, the Queen of Hearts all feature, but the script […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘The Pitmen Painters’

By Arthur Rochester Pauline Armour’s determination and patient wait to be able to bring this play to the BLT stage was fully justified by what will surely be remembered as one of the high points of the current season. The play, by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, tells the true story of a group of coalminers from Ashington in Northumberland who in 1934 organised a Workers’ Education Association course in art appreciation – almost, it seems, by accident: “To be […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’

By Julie Binysh ‘Daisy Pulls it Off’s author, Denise Deegan, went to a state school, but she was heavily influenced by the girls’ boarding school stories of Enid Blyton and others. So, whilst her 1983 play is a parody of the genre, it is also a nostalgic celebration of a reading experience of generations of girls (myself included) who attended ordinary ‘elementary’ schools, like our heroine. Daisy Meredith is a poor but clever girl who becomes Grangewood School’s first scholarship […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice’

By Hilary Cordery So of course I’d seen the film of Jim Cartwright’s “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice”, with the fabulous Jane Horrocks in the leading role, so I knew the story: shy, introverted Little Voice (“LV”), still mourning the loss of her father, seeks solace in his old vinyl record collection, listening to the divas of yesteryear, such as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf, who she can imitate perfectly. When her mother begins dating club […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Compleat Female Stage Beauty’

by Steve Williams  Compleat Female Stage Beauty is a sumptuous, sexy, riotous, fast-paced, bawdy romp set shortly after the Puritans had lost their power and influence. Charles II has just returned to England following his enforced exile in France and is keen to make his mark on history. Unfortunately Ned Kynaston is one of the biggest “losers” in this new and enlightened society. Until then women had been barred from acting, female parts having been hitherto played by “boy actors”. […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘Harper Regan’

By Wayne Sheridan The little bit I’d read about Harper Regan suggested to me that it might just be Shirley Valentine goes to Stockport. The reality of Harper was much darker and less quippy than Shirley and it was not afraid to dig into the seedy underbelly of everyday life. The premise is simple; Harper is an everyday working Mum. She gets some bad news and has to return home to attend to her ill father. She goes and returns […]

01 Jan 2016

Review of ‘A Chorus Of Disapproval’

By Paul Campion Apparently, ‘A Chorus of Disapproval’ was the first play Alan Aykbourn wrote on a word processor. It seems appropriate that this very 1980s play (first performed at the National Theatre in 1984) should be created using such an Eighties piece of technology. For while both were regarded as state-of-the-art at the time, they seem like period pieces now. For me (and I stress the ‘for me’, as I know others will disagree) the problem is that when […]