Reviews

Snake in the Grass

Like an ageing heavyweight journeyman boxer, this 61st offering from Sir Alan Ayckbourn is a bit tired, has only a slugger’s chance of being a contender and, you get the feeling, is probably only in it for the money. It lacks the chiselled fleet-footedness of others in its weight class like Sleuth and the ability to deliver a knockout blow like Deathtrap. Many view him as a great writer, impervious to failure, but this work lacks imagination and is pretty standard. Clues given early in the piece mean that your proverbial qualification in brain surgery or rocket science isn’t going
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Dancing at Lughnasa

This beautifully crafted play from playwright Brian Friel is the tale of one summer in 1936, told through the memories of Michael Mundy. It is a slice of life told in such a way that one feels that it was full of moments that shaped the Michael Mundy character as a man. The piece opens with the ‘moving parts’ of the story, utterly still in tableau, while Michael introduces us to the tale. This is so well done that, whilst your eye is drawn to the tableau, you are still very much listening to what Michael has to say. Indeed,
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Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s classic tale of manners, morality and marriage in Regency England, first published in 1813, consistently appears near the top of lists of ‘most-loved books’ among both literary scholars and the general public. The story centres on the protagonist, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet, as she experiences a myriad of emotions while she and her four sisters consider suitable husbands. Lizzie hastily judges the actions of Mr Darcy and then comes to appreciate that superficial actions are not always the true means to assess someone’s character. RAODS is marking the 200th anniversary of the death of Hampshire’s most famous author with
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The Grapes of Wrath

The title of John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is a reference to lyrics from ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’, by Julia Ward Howe: ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.’ The third line is particularly pertinent as director Abbey Wright’s staging of the Pulitzer Prize winning adaption by Frank Galati faithfully reproduces fateful lightning and a swift sword with relentless enthusiasm: it is
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Evita

This very well-known show has been given a Footlights makeover, director David Humphries creating an elegant and excellent production, showcasing some amazingly mature young talent. This is one of Lloyd Webber’s most complex scores, more akin to opera in many ways, but the cast make it sound so easy to sing, such is the assurance and confidence of the performances. Martin Bennetts as musical director has certainly worked hard and it has more than paid off, while leading an orchestra that complements and never overwhelms the youthful cast. The interpretation does not rely on replicating the well-known professional performances either, which makes this vibrant score seem fresh and exciting once
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PhoeniX’s Idol Talent Factor

The slightly incomprehensible title gives you the clue: this is presented as a take-off of every talent show you’ve ever seen on TV, but is really a variety concert. ‘Variety’ is the operative word: in the types of act, the ages of the performers and, inevitably, the quality of their contributions. Thus the types of act cover from dancing dogs (actually more like running-around-and-pinching-treats-from-their-owner dogs) to a conjuror, from the reading of a Pam Ayres poem to an Irish dance troupe. The majority are musical, but here again there is great variety, from George Michael’s ‘Faith’ to Puccini’s ‘O mio
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