Reviews

The 39 Steps

John Buchan’s adventure story has had several re-incarnations since its original format as a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine back in 1915. It is the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a stiff upper lip and a miraculous knack for getting himself out of sticky situations. Since the original story, it has been adapted for the radio and re-made as several films (including Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1935 version), as well as different stage versions. One of the more recent versions is a comedic adaptation by Patrick Barlow for just four actors, and it is this version
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Hot Mikado

Hot Mikado is a wonderfully bright, energetic and sparkling musical comedy, a jazzed-up version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Mikado. It is not an easy show musically, with its complex harmonies and tempos challenging even the most accomplished of musical societies. It’s a challenge that RAODS has taken up and, despite some fluctuating timings and tunings early on during opening night (issues that I am sure will smooth out as the run continues), has met admirably well. The scene is beautifully and elegantly set, with a Japanese-style bridge, screen panels and Japanese parasols transporting the audience to Titipu, the
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Grief

The very title of Mike Leigh’s 2011 play suggests that it isn’t going to be a bundle of laughs, but ImpAct’s reputation for successfully tackling gritty subject matter more than convinced me that this was a production I shouldn’t miss. How did I feel by the end of the evening? Well, I’m awfully glad there was an interval – in the original at the National Theatre it was played straight through – or I might just have nodded off. I do stress that this was absolutely nothing to do with the performances or Patricia Richardson’s direction, all of which, as
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Viva Voce

I always feel a sense of anticipation when invited along to the inaugural performance of a new group, wondering what the standard will be like and how it will fit into the local theatre scene. In this particular instance, though, I already knew those answers as although Viva Voce is new, its ‘leaders’ and the majority of its performers have been together for quite some considerable time but have now broken away from their original parent society, P&P Productions. What a splendid evening the aptly named Sound Bites proved to be, and a highly original one at that. Plays or
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Bus Stop To Broadway

This company burst onto the local theatre scene just over a year ago with a show at Beaufort Community Centre in Southbourne, making a memorable impression. Now they’re back in the somewhat larger surroundings of the Life Centre in Moordown and this latest show, devised and directed by Jo Mansfield with Alastair Hume as musical director, proves to be equally memorable – for all the right reasons, of course. It wasn’t without its problems; the venue being of a somewhat cavernous nature, body mics were a necessity but sadly there was rather too much reverb when the entire company was
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Dedication

Miss this play and you will miss one of the most moving, original, superbly acted plays this critic has seen in fifty years of theatre-going. It is a very local production in the sense that it deals with the relationship between William Shakespeare and the third Earl of Southampton, his undisputed patron but possibly much, much more. Was this simply an artistic patronage, helpful to each man in his assigned societal role, or was it an incredibly passionate homosexual affair that led each close to treason? It is a complicated story. You need to have your wits about you to
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