Reviews

Love, Lies and Taxidermy

PAINES Plough was formed back in 1974 and I have long been aware of its great reputation, so when I was asked to review this show I jumped at the chance, not least because it was also to be performed in a pop-up tent and the synopsis sounded decidedly quirky. Let’s deal with the ‘tent’ part first. If you’re thinking of something with guy ropes and lots of poles, you’re way off beam – this is the world’s first pop-up, plug-and-play theatre, Roundabout, and is a sturdy, state-of-the-art 150-seater with surround sound and LED lighting. The company say they’ve tried
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An Evening of One-Act Plays

I quite like an evening of one act plays.  It’s like an evening in front of the telly, watching different programmes – and a hark back to the times when ITV used to run Armchair Theatre.  A little before my time, but I think it should return. Poole and Parkstone Players here present three lovely little stories. The first, Alternative Accommodation, by Pam Valentine, is the story of the recently widowed Anna (played by Virginia Harrington, who never fails to impress and delight) and her three children trying to do the best for her and make arrangements for where and
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Mamma Mia

I had never seen this show before. A woeful five minutes of the film version put me off entirely but those with similar prejudices who reject the juke box musical genre need not fear: this is joyous entertainment from start to end. The music of Abba interweaves a tenuous plot but the lyrical quality of the original storytelling songs are such that only occasional tweaks of the words are needed to move it along and create a musical with warmth, wit, style and a heavy dose of nostalgia. The ‘Winner takes it all’ sequence works particularly well and evokes comparison with Kander and
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The Mandela Trilogy

Why an opera? Read Road to Freedom, read any biography of Nelson Mandela and you would probably be more moved than at any moment in the Cape Town Opera production currently playing at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. Libretto and music have to complement each other, to add emotion to thought, and it doesn’t happen here. This is a hybrid. The very fact that acts 1 and 3 are written by different composers seems odd in the first place. You are constantly asked to adjust your response to what is happening on stage. Are you light-heartedly enjoying the ‘Pata Pata’ dance
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Run for Your Wife

‘It’s very funny but it’s not very politically correct, is it?’ was my fiancée’s verdict as we left the theatre. If you prefer brevity, read no further as that neatly sums up what is to follow. Ray Cooney has long been acknowledged as a master of farce. This play had its first run in the West End in 1983 and, while some might find its dependence on specific humorous devices, subjects and situations out of place in 2016, it is equally likely to have many laughing out loud. Happily, BLT’s opening night audience fell firmly within the latter camp (sic),
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Plays ‘n’ Chips

Here’s a quick quiz: where can you get nearly three hours of entertainment and a ‘fish supper’ for £10? No looking at the title now. Drat! Too late! Yes, it’s at the Broadstone Memorial Hall, where I was treated to just that, courtesy of Broadstone Players – the entertainment is in the form of four, humorous, one-act plays, interspersed with some fish and chips and a couple of drinks from the licensed bar. There is one small caveat: seven of the players are notionally first-timers on stage, but that doesn’t put off the audience. I was let into the secret of
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