Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Thackeray’

This is what Emma Rice does best – creating theatrical magic. It’s her 4th such show in the last 2 years – Romantics Anonymous, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk and this revival of her 2007 masterpiece, four of the best of her seventeen shows I’ve seen. It’s back in the same cinema, just down the road from the location of the film’s world premiere in Regent Street seventy-two years ago.

It interweaves the film’s story of the relationship between Laura and Alec with playful scenes involving the other characters at the station – Asst. Station Master Albert and Refreshment Room Manager Myrtle and her assistants Beryl and Stanley, two other rather less serious couplings. It takes us from the moment Alec removes grit from Laura’s eye in the refreshment room at Milford Junction station, through their regular meetings at the station, in the cinema, the cafe & restaurant and in the flat of Alec’s colleague Stephen, to the crunch will-they-won’t-they denouement back at the station.

It flows beautifully from scene to scene, location to location, using film footage, songs with lyrics by Noel Coward and music by Coward and Stu Barker, and every trick in the inventive staging book. The cleverest thing about it is that the fun scenes don’t contaminate the love story, helped by the fact Isabel Pollen as Laura and Jim Sturgeon as Alec play it straight throughout. Lucy Thackeray’s Myrtle, Dean Nolan’s Albert, Beverley Rudd’s Beryl and Jos Slovick’s Stanley are all an absolute joy to behold, and if that isn’t enough they play another seven roles between them.

It’s a respectful homage to the film, which doesn’t for one moment send it up. The fun scenes add bucket-loads of charm and humour, and the two interwoven parts add up to one hell of an entertaining show. Though its hard to remember how you felt ten years ago, first time around, if anything I felt it was even better this time. Whatever you think of her two years at Shakespeare’s Globe, we’ve got Emma Rice back to create theatrical magic like this. I for one can’t wait for her next show.

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Another show, another exclamation mark….and here I am outing myself as a Coronation Street fan. Well, if I wasn’t, there’d be no point in going to see this – it’s one long in-joke (shared by between 15 and 20 million people).

Jonathan Harvey has distilled the essence of the show over 50 years into two hours of scenes involving 54 characters played out by six actors and narrated by a Corrie legend in person – Roy Barraclough. The love lives of Ken, Deirdre and Gail provide running jokes, one complicated story line is played out as a ballet and another as a silent movie and the set provides the rooftops, Rovers Return bar, generic door, generic staircase and Hilda’s muriel and flying ducks!

Each actor plays between six and twelve characters with seven female characters played by men. The number of quick changes is extraordinary. The most successful were Jo Mousley as Ena, Hilda, Deirdre, Karen & Shelley; Peter Temple as Audrey, Bet, Blanche, Jason & Roy and Lucy Thackeray as Annie, Elsie, Hayley, Martha, Raquel & Vera. I appreciate how difficult it must be to cover 50 years, but there were some notable omissions, including Reg & Maureen, Mavis & Derek, Len, Curley, Alf, Betty, Liz, Albert and all the Battersby’s and Webster’s!

In style, it reminded me of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) which has been touring for more than 20 years since it first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe. There was a tackiness about the production values that was both necessary, given the number of settings and characters, and somehow appropriate. It was quite rightly played for laughs, though a few scenes didn’t quite work. A lot of the time though it was laugh out loud funny and it was clear how well the audience knew the characters.

Clearly one for fans only, but if you are a fan it’s an affectionate and funny homage that’s difficult to resist.

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