Reviews

Spider’s Web

Ah, the ‘Whodunnit’. A classic genre for fiction and for theatre. You settle down to an evening of theatre, anticipating a couple of hours or so of twists, turns, guessing games, lies and, if you’re lucky, something to chuckle at too. Mix that anticipation up with the fact that it is an Agatha Christie play and you feel that you are justified in your excitement. All that is left to satiate your expectation is the will of the performers and the staging. Phew! In the hands of RMDS, Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web is safe. It is the tale of a
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Second Person Narrative

It is always a huge pleasure to go along to the opening production in the AUB’s autumn term, since it is the first opportunity to see that year’s graduating students making their debut public appearances before they join the wider world of professional theatre. These productions are always of a high standard, but I have rarely seen such a uniformly superb cast as I did on this occasion. The director’s note in the programme tells us that ‘The play shows a woman struggling to find her identity and purpose whilst striving against the feeling of being a “minor character” in
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Ladies’ Day

It is easy to see why Ladies’ Day is so popular with amateur dramatic societies. It has four strong parts for women, a good plot and some very funny lines. It also has some thought-provoking things to say about some of the fundamentals of life: families, growing old, class, what it is to be a woman, and love itself. It may be popular but that does not make it an easy play to bring off. This production most emphatically does bring it off. The four women already mentioned are fish-packers in Hull, who go to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot
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Jane Eyre

After this production had been chosen and cast, with rehearsals already underway, director Kevin Dicker unexpectedly died very suddenly. Consideration was given as to whether or not to continue but the decision to carry on was unanimous, and I app-laud the company for doing so under such sad circumstances. It was pleasing too to see that another Ferndown group, Phoenix Musical Society, were happy to step in to provide the period costumes needed, as it was Kevin’s own company, BSP, who had supplied such things in the past. Paul Marcus took on the director’s reins as well as designing, with
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Hamlet

When Paapa Essiedu stepped on stage at Stratford earlier this year, Dominic Cavendish of the Daily Telegraph noted that he was the first black actor to be given the role of Hamlet since the RSC’s inception in 1961. It is difficult to fathom if this move should have been celebrated or met with an exclamation of incredulity that we have had to wait for over half a century for it to happen. Likewise this version, with adapted text by Mark Norfolk, hangs its main selling point on the fact that this is the very first time an all-black cast has
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Habeas Corpus

The legal Latin of the title translates as ‘You might have the body’ and a theme which recurs throughout the play is that there is too much emphasis placed on the body, and especially its sex drive, compared with the emotions and other aspects of what it is to be human. Typically, Bennett is attacking the prevailing attitudes of the time, with mockery as his weapon of choice. Is it a farce? Not in the Ray Cooney sense, although trousers are dropped, identities are mistaken and there are jokes about laxatives. It relies for its laughs much more on the
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