Reviews

Dial ‘M’ for Murder

London Repertory Players spent two weeks in residence at Boscombe’s Shelley Theatre in August last year, presenting two small-cast thrillers, The Business of Murder and Dead of Night. Director Vernon Thompson and team seem to have enjoyed that visit as much as those of us who saw those productions: enough to have returned twelve months on. This time, they bring three productions, with a slightly larger company, at the heart of which are three actors – Barbara Dryhurst, Mark Spalding and Al Wadlan – who featured prominently during their 2016 season. This summer’s season opens with Frederick Knott’s classic crime
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Sister Act

Thanks to numerous screenings of the film on TV, not to mention a number of theatrical productions of the show in recent years, there can be few people now who are not familiar with the story of a disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, who witnesses her boyfriend commit murder and, for her own safety, is put into protective custody in the one place she is unlikely to be found – a convent. However, if perchance you’ve been marooned on a TV- and theatre-less desert island and have never come across this heart-warming show, do go along to the Tivoli Theatre
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Made in Dagenham

Arriving at the Regent Centre, I was delighted to see an old car, a Ford Cortina of course, delivering the lead characters in the show to the theatre for opening night: Beth Chumley, who played Rita O’Grady,  Daniel Murrell (her husband, Eddie) and their two children, Finlay Wright Stephens as Graham O’Grady and Gabriella Nicol as his sister, Sharon. Highcliffe Charity Players never fail to ensure that the scene is set for the audience from beyond the stage and even beyond the auditorium and foyer, so that we are in no doubt of the society’s intention to embed the era
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As You Like It

The weather was appalling during the day, but the rain abated at teatime and the performance went ahead as scheduled. Although I have seen many open-air Shakespeare productions before, this was my first experience of the Brownsea Open Air Theatre (BOAT) variety and what a very good experience it was. I had assumed a relatively low level of staging, lighting, effects and so on, but the experienced BOAT crew have been doing this for a very long time – since 1964 in fact (the Assistant Stage Manager told me it was his 23rd year!). There is tiered seating on three
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Macbeth

Some open-air productions are surprisingly sophisticated technically, but in the lovely setting of Christchurch’s Priory House Gardens, Bournemouth Shakespeare Players strip this production down to the bare essentials: an almost empty stage, modern dress (although, incongruously, the final fight is with swords), no sound amplification and lighting confined to a couple of floodlights shone from the upper storey of the Priory House itself. The ‘bare essentials’ in this case are of course Shakespeare’s lines and how well they are spoken. Leo Smith as Duncan gives full value to the verse, as does Daniel Withey as Macduff. Banquo is strongly played
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RMDS Summer Show

Having spent the best part of the last two weeks stuck at home with a nasty virus I picked up on holiday, I couldn’t have been more pleased that one of my first ventures back into the outside world was to the annual show that I have regularly described over the years as my end-of-term treat. The RMDS Summer Show is the stuff of legend: three completely separate short entertainments, each seen in turn by the audience – who are also divided into three – and with plentiful nibbles on hand during the breaks to sustain us as we walk
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