Reviews

Sounds of the ’50s and ’60s

I must declare an interest from the start: the ’50s and ’60s are exactly my era, and back then I must have bopped, smooched or sung along to just about every number on the programme. But even someone without my enthusiasm for the music of these two decades would have agreed that Wimborne Musical Theatre gave us an evening of high quality and enormous enjoyment. Most of the company of 22 had their moment in the spotlight and not one of them let the others down. The quality was variable, of course, not so much in the singing as in
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The Light Burns Blue

Silva Semerciyan’s play is loosely based on the true story of the Cottingley fairies, in which two young girls, Elsie Wright and her cousin, Frances Griffiths, borrowed a camera from Elsie’s father and took pictures that appeared to show fairies. The images came to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article he was writing for Strand Magazine, and the photographs caused a sensation, dividing opinion as to their genuineness. The pictures were taken in 1917, at a time when many families were suffering the loss of male family members in battle, and interest
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Calamity Jane

On the day when Donald Trump’s victory devastated most of the world outside America, a production of a classic American fable, Calamity Jane, seemed somehow weirdly reassuring and appropriate. OK, the real Calamity Jane was probably illiterate, promiscuous and an alcoholic, but that didn’t stop her becoming an example of the best the Wild West could produce, male or female. Not, it has to be said, Trump’s idea of womanhood, thank God, but a sassy, sharp-shooting survivor in tough times and one hell of a sweet singer! But hey, this isn’t a history perspective. Let’s move to the Waterside Theatre.
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Nell Gwynn

This was my first visit to RAODS and to the Plaza Theatre and what a treat I was given with Nell Gwynn, a story of a young strong woman and her fight with love, the theatre and bringing women onto a level playing field socially and theatrically. All the principal characters set out their stalls well in communicating the language of the play. Kerry Butcher is stunningly good as Nell Gwynn: her characterisation, pace and interaction with the audience are all absolutely first rate and I am sure that when we get to the awards season her name will feature.
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French Without Tears

One of the best developments in British theatre in the last twenty years has been the restoration of Terence Rattigan’s reputation. Profoundly out of fashion during the era of Osborne, Wesker and Pinter, he has been discovered by a new generation to be as shrewd and as thoughtful an observer of the human condition as any of them, albeit in a very different style – favouring wit over gritty realism to convey his message. French Without Tears is one of his earliest plays, written when he was only 25, and its themes are young men’s attitudes to women, and the
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A Matter of Life and Death

I’ve got superlatives aplenty running around my head as I type. What follows may seem a little gushy, but I had a good time. Performances were great, the staging minimalistic but exciting and the pace was sharp and snappy, so gush I may just do. This play is a stage adaptation of the 1946 film, which starred David Niven as Peter Carter. It is a tale of two worlds: the one we know and the one we may well discover – all in good time. If you don’t know the film, Peter is meant to be in the other world
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