Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Going Straight - Review - Westovians South Shields

Going Straight
Westovian Theatre Society
South Shields
7 March 2011

Michael and Ray are your 'old school' EastEnd criminals, maybe with a heart of gold (they wouldn't steal or be violent with the 'normal' member of society) but they knew what buttons to press to get what they want.
Michael has done alright for himself, living in Costa-Del-Crime with his second wife Francine, things couldn't be better, sun, sea and sangria all day long.
Ray however is living off his ill gotten days, by doing the London crime bus tours and writing about days gone by. His wife Brenda is as loyal as any wife could be, but maybe hankers for the finer things in life that they cant afford. A surprise invite from Michael conjures up good and bad thoughts of their time together. Will Brenda's suspicions be played out? What will they all make of Polly the movie researcher, will she add to the tensions?

Going Straight (wrote by the late great Richard Harris) is a good old what-will-happen-next, whodonit with a great humourous side. Staged in a great set of a luxury Villa, set aside for those that can afford it, illegally or not. The bright and decorative outlay gave us a grand insight of  how the other half live. Michael Ferry, Ian Varty and team have done a great job in setting this for us.

The lighting (Ian Johnson and Miriam Beber (watch that name for a Twitter trend tomorrow!) and Sound (by the always dependable Gareth Hunter) was spot on, every position, standing and bell ring was right on que.
The five regular performed local actors, put on a fabulous display of amateur dramatics.
Val Dawson, Mary Stephinson and Amy Jeffels have appeared in two plays that I have reviewed before Fawlty Towers and Ladies Day respectfully, they have certainly kept up the conveyor belt of standards, great acting from the ladies tonight. The two Gentlemen on offer really pushed the boundaries of the lying, self conceited and resentful characters that they played. David Cooke-who reminded me of the tough nut Leslie Grantham and not only in the acting department- played Michael with great skill and deliverance. I certainly wouldn't want to meet him in a darkened alley! His overpowering acting role is one that was brilliant to see. Peter Calvert who played the unimposing, meek and mild Ray was steadfast in his display, he pulled off the nervousness of his character will great style. I hope to see him treading the boards soon.
This production was put together by the dynamic Ruth Burn, last seen as the frightening step mother in Cinderella, she is brilliant on both sides of the stage. Very well directed by Dean Jukes, a newcomer to the directing world, his performers have done him proud, lets hope we see him pacing up and down (like he did a bit tonight) again soon.
The sparse South Shields audience really enjoyed the jovial banterings of all on stage. There is some adult language in this play, and I am relieved to say that the crowd took to this, as the gritty dialogue was essential to it's success.
If you are going to spend £5 on entertainment then you could do a hell of a lot worse than spending it on Going Straight. A great play put on by a great Society.

On until Saturday 12th March.

Michael Hunter

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