Reviews

Calamity Jane

WMOS sustain their deserved reputation for putting on classy and energetic shows with this film classic developed for the stage. Liz Petley-Jones has again, but this time literally, directed a sharp-shooting show with a note-perfect band under the swift and talented baton of John Sparrow. If there was an award to be given under the banner ‘Energetic Firecracker’, then the name of the winner would most certainly be Emma Jane Smith as Calamity, exuding power and energy throughout her time on stage in this coveted role. Iain Steel is more than a match for her, singing his solos with warmth, and point-scoring beautifully with
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Role Play

There are few better-known names in British theatre than that of (Sir) Alan Ayckbourn and many of his published play-texts are popular on the amateur theatrical circuit. One such is this two-act drama from 2001, which originally formed part of a triptych of plays called Damsels in Distress. Maybe Ayckbourn is an acquired taste or perhaps this is not one of his best, but by the end of the first scene (at least half an hour) I was losing the will to live. The performances themselves – John Sivewright as Justin, and Hannah-Rosie Tointon as Julie(-Ann) – were fine. It
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Sounds of the ’50s and ’60s

I must declare an interest from the start: the ’50s and ’60s are exactly my era, and back then I must have bopped, smooched or sung along to just about every number on the programme. But even someone without my enthusiasm for the music of these two decades would have agreed that Wimborne Musical Theatre gave us an evening of high quality and enormous enjoyment. Most of the company of 22 had their moment in the spotlight and not one of them let the others down. The quality was variable, of course, not so much in the singing as in
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The Light Burns Blue

Silva Semerciyan’s play is loosely based on the true story of the Cottingley fairies, in which two young girls, Elsie Wright and her cousin, Frances Griffiths, borrowed a camera from Elsie’s father and took pictures that appeared to show fairies. The images came to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article he was writing for Strand Magazine, and the photographs caused a sensation, dividing opinion as to their genuineness. The pictures were taken in 1917, at a time when many families were suffering the loss of male family members in battle, and interest
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Calamity Jane

On the day when Donald Trump’s victory devastated most of the world outside America, a production of a classic American fable, Calamity Jane, seemed somehow weirdly reassuring and appropriate. OK, the real Calamity Jane was probably illiterate, promiscuous and an alcoholic, but that didn’t stop her becoming an example of the best the Wild West could produce, male or female. Not, it has to be said, Trump’s idea of womanhood, thank God, but a sassy, sharp-shooting survivor in tough times and one hell of a sweet singer! But hey, this isn’t a history perspective. Let’s move to the Waterside Theatre.
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Nell Gwynn

This was my first visit to RAODS and to the Plaza Theatre and what a treat I was given with Nell Gwynn, a story of a young strong woman and her fight with love, the theatre and bringing women onto a level playing field socially and theatrically. All the principal characters set out their stalls well in communicating the language of the play. Kerry Butcher is stunningly good as Nell Gwynn: her characterisation, pace and interaction with the audience are all absolutely first rate and I am sure that when we get to the awards season her name will feature.
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