Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Past Glories (Part One) - Review- People's Theatre

Past Glories
People's Theatre
5th April 2011

As part of the continuing Centenary Season celebrations of The People's Theatre tonight and up until 16th April the Theatre have commissioned four brand new one act plays, on the theme of 'Past Glories'.
The plays are staged as double bills on alternative nights.
Tonight we have in store 'A Spoonful Of Honey' written by Tony Gannie and 'Never Rains But It Pours' written by Alison Carr.

A Spoonful.. is the recollections of Lilian who was born in 1911, who is now in a care home.
Her playwright Grandson has set her a challenge of coming up with answers to his questions of her life, all through the medium of a tape recorder. Lillian delves deep into the often painful, sad and secret memories she holds.

We are greeted to a minimalistic stage set up of  the three stages of Lillian's life, played by Pat Haggerty at age 99 (the care home), Nicky Dexter at age 30 (family home) and Francesca Tomlinson at age 24 (her parents home). The memories of Lillian are interspersed brilliantly between the time-lines of the setting. Superb drama is acted out by Haggerty trying hard to put into the context of her life as the often forgetful and funny Lillian, as she wondered off into a peaceful nap recounting her tales, the stage bounds into exuberant life with Tomlinson taking over the reigns as the dutiful daughter pinning her hopes on the upbringing of her parents and the one day of having a home of her own. Tomlinson shone through this performance, and was totally believable as the nervous bride to be. Dexter was next up as the stay at home mother, heavily pregnant with a husband down the pit. Times were hard and the gritty performance really grabbed a hold of the audience by the heartstrings.
The lighting by Dave Bailey and Lisa Harison as well as the sound by Tom Carr and Reg White kept up the emotions of the play to a brilliant standard.
John MacDonald as director and Maggie Watson as producer have crafted some superb monologues into this play which brought shivers to my spine, they were really that good.
Hard working cast and crew again, coupled with the discourse won over the public in a brilliant start to the nights entertainment.
I would recommend this highly.

 Never the story of the Jensens trapped in the attic of their rapidly flooding house. Meredith tries her hardest to calm the flood, not only of the freezing temperatures, but the underlying secrets and resentments shared between her, Lyn and Cari. As the house breaks up in the storm will the past spark up enough emotive force to shatter their lives.

Set amongst the dirty and disregarded items in the loft space, this play encapsulated all that could be going on in any family situation. Fractious relations caused by secrets that should remain hidden often come to light in the worst possible way.
The incredible Louise Shirley -  playing Meredith - acted brilliantly coping with what had and what was about to happen in their cramped and unladylike surroundings. In the many monologues that was contained in this play, she set standards that many people will look up to. Jo Kelly - who I last reviewed in the brilliant People's Theatre production of Pig Stew - played Lyn with the same superb skill as before, similar resentment, shielding herself and her pride away from her mother Meredith but doting on Cari. She gave a superb stalward performance that only beggars for more. The youthfully annoying Emma Watson - playing Cari - played a fantastic pivotal role between the rivalry of Lyn and Meredith, her great acting scenes in pain and confusion left me feeling helpless in my seat, wanting to reach out for her.
The same production team as 'A Spoonful' led by director Kath Frazer have done a grand job in setting the scenes on the stage, that will stay with me and the rest of the cast for a long time.
Great interaction of the actors, kept this brilliantly dialogued moving and humourous play flowing sharply, Great work!

Michael Hunter

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