Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Theatre Roundup April


Three visits to the theatre during April, and three quite varying stories and productions.


THE THRILL OF LOVE
by Amanda Whittington
St James Theatre
(8th April 2013)
Runs 27th March 2013 – 4th May 2013

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain, convicted of the coldblooded killing of her unfaithful lover. This is her story, the fact that she pleaded not guilty after having handed herself over to an off duty police officer at the time of the murder, and offered no defence at her trial.

The story follows the investigating officer’s gut feeling that there was more to her case than was first apparent. His investigation takes him to the nightclub where she worked and the story unfolds through the eyes of the other women that worked there.

Although well staged, it did feel as if something was lacking, and that might have been the non presence of the other men in the story, the violent ex-husband and the equally unpleasant boyfriend and murder victim.

This production contains gun shots, smoking, strong language, scenes of a sexual nature and recreational drug use, and is recommended for ages 16+. Smoke, Haze and Strobe lighting are used throughout.

MARKET BOY
by David Eldridge
The Lost Theatre
Ran 24th to 27th April

The art of selling shoes in Romford Market during the 1980s, with Margaret Thatcher as the market inspector. This play set during the years of Margaret Thatcher’s occupancy of number 10 Downing Street felt a little rushed to stage to coincide with her passing. Whether you loved or loathed her, Margaret Thatcher changed the United Kingdom during this period.

I remember the period well. I remember Romford Market during that period and I have to admit the play did bring back memories of the lost era. The characters and stalls depicted were almost as I remember them, although I’m not so certain there was a stall full of CDs in 1985, more vinyl than shiny disk. The story was a bit weak, following a young lad starting as tea boy on the shoe stall and performances were mixed, although the fights were staged culminating in the biggest fight Romford Market had ever seem. (However, I’m guessing that might have changed since the period it was set.)

I will pick out George Vafakis, as Mouse, his comic expressions and timing were brilliant, and I hope to see more of him in future productions.

The performance was not suitable for under 12s


GUTTED
By Rikki Beadle-Blair
Theatre Royal Stratford East
(30th April 2013)
Runs 26th April to 25th May.

Described as “A daring, shocking and intensely emotional new play by Rikki Beadle-Blair”, this play is certainly an emotional rollercoaster. There are quite a large number of very funny moments during the play which contrast against other times when the story becomes quite uncomfortable and other moments where it is funny but you are telling yourself they shouldn’t be.

The story follows Bridie Prospect (Louise Jameson) and her four sons, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John and their partners in a turbulent examination of a mother’s love for her boys and where this dysfunctional and self destructive family went wrong. The Prospects are the royalty and the nightmare family on this council estate in South East London.  When one of the boys is released from rehab it triggers a 24 hour period that will change the family forever.

Louise Jameson gives a tremendous performance as the hard but vulnerable mother, and I challenge anyone not to feel for her by the end. The whole cast give strong performances and the only problem I had towards the beginning was to follow the timeline of the play as there were many fast and often short flashbacks during the narrative, signalled by the projection of images of the boys as children above the stage. 

GUTTED embraces adult themes and contains extremely strong language and scenes of a sexual nature. Suitable for audiences aged 16+