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Aug 27th

Top Hat at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Louise Winter

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I had been so looking forward to this show and had very high expectations and these were fully met! This is just a wonderful, wonderful show. When I was in my teens there was often an Astaire and Rogers musical on the TV on a Saturday afternoon and I spent many happy hours escaping into them. There is nothing better – except experiencing it live!

A hugely ambitious project when aspects are considered as a whole – staging, costumes, the dancing, the music. It’s a vast undertaking but this stage adaptation is perfectly done. There is a quality that is undeniable. Hildegard Bechtler’s staging is gorgeous; totally authentic looking Art Deco sets that scream class and appear to have been created out of love. The set moves to create quirky little scenes: the hansom cab, inside a plane, glimpses into other scenes behind. Jon Morrell’s costumes look (and therefore I imagine) are very expensive indeed. The attention to the detail is wonderful and just a delight to look at.

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Alan Burkett (playing Jerry Travers) and Charlotte Gooch (Dale Tremont) as the leads have a great chemistry on stage and their singing and dancing is, of course, sublime. There is a lot to live up to and the pressure must be heavy but Burkitt has the mannerisms of Astaire when dancing; that relaxed, almost casual, feel. Gooch is cheeky and sassy. They are fantastic ambassadors for the show and its heritage.

The script is so sharp and fast that you do have to keep up. This is especially so in the interaction between Horace Hardwick (Clive Hayward who steals the scene many a time!) and Jerry. The bickering between Hardwick and his wife Madge (Rebecca Thornhill) is very funny. Other super performances are from Sebastian Torkia as the hilarious Alberto Beddini and John Conroy as Bates.

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This is a superlative production. It is of course, Irving Berlin’s music including Top Hat (obviously), White tie and Tails, Puttin’ on the Ritz, and Let’s Face the Music and Dance, that are completely ageless. Jae Alexander’s musical direction keeps things zipping along. The totally faithful adherence to the original score is heartwarming as is the retention of the original choreography. These two aspects are the reason that this show has been so well supported but it is the execution of these along with the wonderful performances, the sumptuous costumes, the art deco staging, and overall high polish make this a first class production.

It was very busy at MK Theatre last night but do try and get tickets. It's uplifting to see a show of such impeccable quality.

TOP HAT at Milton Keynes Theatre
Until 6 September 2014
Tickets £21.50 - £58.40 (booking fee)
BOOK ONLINE

Aug 19th

Agatha Christie’s Murder on Air at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

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This most original and unusual production is certainly among the most entertaining I’ve seen.

It’s classy, nostalgic, and features thrilling yarns with unexpected climaxes. It’s great fun and has a huge novelty factor but, most of all, it lifts the lid on just how complex performing a radio play can be.

Set in a studio, at a time when actors turned up in evening dress to perform on ‘the wireless’, three of Christie’s radio plays are read in the style of their original BBC broadcasts by members of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company.

Personal Call (circa 1954), surrounds phone calls a man is getting from his former wife - who died the previous year; The Yellow Iris (1937) features Hercule Poirot who gets a mysterious call to a nightclub to avert a crime, while Butter in a Lordly Dish (1948) concerns a KC and dedicated philanderer who, after another successful prosecution, arranges to meet his latest conquest. But he has a surprise in store.

All are superbly performed by a versatile and talented company, not least guest stars Jenny Seagrove and Tom Conti who, though reading the scripts as a radio actor would, hams up his performance by giving the audience knowing looks and appearing so relaxed that at one point on the opening night he seemingly missed one of his cues, much to the amusement of his fellow cast members.

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I love radio plays and this really opened my eyes as to how they are performed. At times though I had to close them and listen to the story. There is so much going on on stage that I was distracted… which makes me want to see it again so I can take in more.

Timing is of the essence, particularly when it comes to the sound effects, expertly provided by foley artist (one who creates sound effects) Alexander S Bermange, whose work was so fascinating I could watch on entire show centred on him alone. Adrian Metcalfe also deserves a special mention for his wonderful imitation of trains, while Elizabeth Payne proved she had a worthy extra string to her bow as a singer, ably accompanied by the aforementioned Alexander S Bermange.

A step back in the history of the BBC, a lesson in broadcasting, and hugely entertaining, this really is a must see!

Just one thing: why did dedicated animal lover Jenny Seagrove wander on stage at the beginning of the evening with an elderly dog who walked up to its own little microphone and then walk off? No-one seems to know!


Agatha Christie’s Murder on Air is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until August 23

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor

The tour then continues:

September 1-6: Theatre Royal Brighton

September 16-20: Salford Quays Theatre, Manchester

www.kenwright.com


Aug 12th

One Man Two Guvs @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) born in Venice, wrote over 200 plays, of which 150 are comedies.  One of his best known works, Il Servitore di Due Padroni (The Servant of Two Masters), was given a new lease of life by Richard Bean, who adapted it in 2011 for the National Theatre, setting it in Brighton in 1963.  Now seen by over 1 million people worldwide, this internationally-acclaimed smash-hit has been hailed as 'the funniest show on the planet' by The Mail and a 'comic classic' by The Guardian and has been hugely successful on Broadway, in the West End and on tour in the UK as well as Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand..

One Man, Two Guvnors is the hilarious story of Francis Henshall who, fired from his skiffle band, becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother - who's been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a job with one Stanley Stubbers - but to prevent discovery, he must keep his two guvnors apart. It has been described as a glorious celebration of British comedy - a unique, laugh-out-loud mix of satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners.

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The acclaimed production has songs by Grant Olding, performed by skiffle band The Craze, who entertain the audience before the first and second acts. Every movement is carefully choreographed for maximum comedy effect by the Physical Comedy Director  Cal McCrystal and Choreographer and Tour Director Adam Penford, with designs by Mark Thompson, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound design by Paul Arditti, fight direction by Kate Waters.

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Literally throwing himself into the role of Francis Henshall is Gavin Spokes who recently appeared in 1984  and Jamie Lloyd's production of She Stoops to Conquer.  He played Hardy in Laurel and Hardy for the Watermill Theatre.

Emma Barton, Shaun Williamson, Derek Elroy One Man 2 Guvs.jpgShaun Williamson, probably best known for his roles as Barry in EastEnders, Extras and Life's Too Short for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, plays scrap dealer Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench.

Emma Barton, playing Francis’s love interest Dolly, is well known to TV viewers for her role as Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, a role she played for three years and she recently appeared in Celebrity Masterchef.

Jasmyn Banks is Pauline Clench, Alicia Davies is Rachel Crabbe, Michael Dylan is Alfie, Derek Elroy plays Lloyd Boateng, Edward Hancock is Alan Dangle (playing the role of ‘an actor’ which I really enjoyed) and Patrick Warner plays Stanley Stubbers

Taking its roots from Commedia dell’arte, the play often moves into pantomime with carefully crafted  audience participation.  The restaurant scene, as always, is the funniest scene in the play, leaving the audience roaring with laughter at the slapstick antics and mishaps.  Precise comic timing is an absolute must in this show and the cast execute this to perfection.

Having seen the original tour with the superb James Cordon starring, I was a little disappointed to see that some very coarse lines had been added, which seemed to be unnecessary and actually distracted from the comedy.  The style seems to have changed too, playing specifically for laughs, but the audience love it nonetheless and I can see this touring for many years to come.

Performances:   Mon 11 – Sat 16 Aug
Evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £29.50 when booked online or over the phone. (premium seats also available)
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

The tour continues to:
Crawley Heath
18 – 23 August 2014
Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent
25 – 30 August 2014
Liverpool Empire
1 – 6 September 2014
Theatre Royal, Bath
8 – 20 September 2014
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
22 – 27 September 2014
Further dates and info can be found on:
www.onemantwoguvnors.com


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
11.8.14

Aug 6th

April in Paris @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 5th - 9th August 2014

By Yvonne Delahaye

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John Godber is the third most performed playwright in the UK, after William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn. His plays are performed across the world with Bouncers being the most popular and it’s easy to see why he’s so successful.  John writes characters that are real, human, truthful and very, very funny. April in Paris was written in 1992 as part of the Hull Festival and in 1994 was nominated for the Olivier Comedy of the Year Award.


Al and Bet are not what you'd call 'love's young dream'. Bet's bored, Al's at his wits' end and they're stuck in a romance rut! Then out of the blue the passionless pair win a holiday to Paris! Will the city of love rekindle some life into this dying relationship? Will they succumb to the allure of l'amour in 'gay Paris'? Or will it be battle-stations amongst the boulevards? Join the intrepid pair as they sample the delights of the continent. Will Paris persuade them that they are a perfect partnership or is this the end of 'la rue' for Al and Bet?


John revisited the play 22 years after he wrote it and discovered that the themes of high unemployment, redundancy and house price stagnation were still endemic in Yorkshire.  In this version, the play is still very fresh, well balanced and relevant and it’s two stars, Shobna Gulati and Joe McGann, bring the characters to life, sharing their lives, dreams and disappointments with us.

Shobna Gulati is best known for playing Anita in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and Sunita Alahan in Coronation Street from 2001 to 2006, a role to which she returned at the end of 2009 and departed again in 2013. Since then she has been a panellist on Loose Women.

Joe McGann became a household name as Charlie Burrows, the “housekeeper” in the hit TV comedy series The Upper Hand which ran for six years. His major stage roles include Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Ray Say in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

April in Paris is produced by Paul Tyrer & Jamie Clark for April in Paris Ltd with Jane Walmsley and Michael Braham for JAM Pictures Ltd, in association with Derby Theatre.

The dialogue is fast-paced, with almost a laugh on every line and is hysterically funny.  Shobna and Joe are both brilliant as Bet and Al and we totally believe in their characters and relationship.  Every comic nuance is delivered with great energy, enthusiasm and truth.  As my friend Vicky said ‘they make it look so easy’, but as we’re both actors too we know only too well just how hard they both have to work to keep an audience entertained with just 2 actors on stage. The play has great warmth and the moments of pathos are touching, but never dwelt on for long as the laughs just keep on coming. 

The set is very cleverly designed by Pip Leckenby and we loved the 2 understudies, Emma Keele and Robert Ashcroft, dressed as French mime artists who made the set changes hilarious.

Tickets are available from Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office on 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee), or online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

LISTINGS
Performances:   Tue 05 – Sat 09 Aug
Evenings 7.30pm, Wed & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £29.50 when booked online or over the phone.
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)
The tour continues to:
AUGUST
12th-16th Malvern Theatre
19th-23rd Churchill Theatre, Bromley
26th-30  Glasgow Theatre Royal
SEPTEMBER
1st-3rd   Lyceum Theatre, Crewe
4th-6th  Opera House, Manchester
9th-13th  Richmond Theatre
15th-20th Chesterfield Pomegranate
24th-27th New Brighton Floral Pavilion
30th-4th Oct Dundee Rep Theatre
OCTOBER
7th-11th  Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
14th-18th Civic Theatre, Darlington


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
5.8.14

Jul 24th

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

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Matt Lapinskas, Lloyd Daniels and Danielle Hope

Forty-five years after it made its debut, the first musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice to be staged in public opened its latest national tour in Windsor this week – to great applause and a standing ovation.

First generation Joseph fans, who know every song, clapped alongside youngsters who may even be coming to the theatre for the first time in this most enduring of all family shows.

Given its fame and popularity throughout the world and the stars who have played the title role before him (Donny Osmond, Jason Donovan, Paul Jones, Phillip Schofield, Lee Mead…), it must have been quite daunting for 21-year-old Lloyd Daniels on the first night. Not only was his boss, producer and, on this occasion, director Bill Kenwright in the audience, plus press, but he was also making his musical theatre debut.

The former X Factor finalist started off a little shakily with a fixed grin showing gleaming white teeth, but in no time at all he was into his stride, portraying the favourite of Jacob’s 12 sons as if he was born to it, though with a freshness and endearing innocence.

Kenwright’s production is, not surprisingly considering how long he’s been producing it, slick and fast-paced, a kaleidoscope of colour and favourite songs, moving seamlessly from one effervescent scene to the next; an upbeat show when even Joseph’s sad tale of banishment, slavery and imprisonment comes second place to talking camels and a Pharaoh mask with flashing eyes.

The whole thing is held together by the Narrator, this time round played by Danielle Hope, who made her professional debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium after winning the BBC’s talent series Over the Rainbow. Hers is an impressive performance, her singing powerful and precise, and she has an authoritative air.

Joseph’s brothers are a bunch of high energy, entertaining dancers and singers, led by their ‘father’ Henry Metcalfe as Jacob, whose presence commands respect – not surprisingly as this 70-year-old is also the choreographer and associate director.

It’s always lovely to have a live band in a production and musical director Tim Whiting’s musicians don’t disappoint. Neither does Matt Lapinskas as Elvis, aka Pharaoh. A really spirited performance.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Aug 2 (box office: 01753 853888 www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk) and then tours:

Aug 4-10: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend

Aug 12-23: Bord Gais Theatre, Dublin

Aug 26-30: Hall for Cornwall, Truro

Sept 2-6: New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Sept 9-13: Hexagon, Reading

Sept 16-20: Regent Theatre, Stoke

Sept 23-27: Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Sept 30-Oct 4: Opera House, Cork

Oct 7-12: Sands Theatre, Carlisle

Oct 14-18: Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Oct 21-25: Palace Theatre, Manchester

Oct 28- Nov 1: Theatre Royal, Norwich

Nov 4-8: Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Nov 11-15: Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold

Nov 25-29: Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe

2015

Feb 10-15: Watford Palace Theatre

Feb 17-21: Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh

Feb 24-28: Southport Theatre

May 19: Swindon Theatre

May 26-30: Curve Theatre, Leicester

www.kenwright.com

Jul 4th

'Singing In The Rain' Spectacular!

By Thia Cooper

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Never have I come home from an evening at the theatre, beaming, and singing on such a high! That is the effect the production of ‘Singing In The Rain’ at Milton Keynes Theatre had on me.

The Musical is based on the1952 MGM film famously starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. In 2012 a pole by ‘Sight and Sound’ voted it the 20th greatest film ever made.

The story tells the tale of one studio’s struggle in Hollywood, to change from silent films to talkies. There is resistance from the silent star (Lina Lamont. Spectacularly played by Vicky Binns) with a grating high pitched voice. I don’t know how she managed to sustain her voice throughout!

It was clever technology that included the silent film screen coming down at times, as the story develops. It is obvious to everyone (except Lina) that Kathy Selden (Amy Ellen Richardson) would be the VOICE as she sang and spoke beautifully.

The songs written by Nacio Herb Brown and Adolph Green, have all stood the test of time! Singing in the Rain’, ‘You Stepped Out Of A Dream’, ‘Make ‘Em ‘Laugh’, ‘You Are My Lucky Star’, ‘Moses Supposes’ and ‘Good Morning’! What a glut of beautiful music, beautifully sung.

Cosmo Brown, played by Stephane Anelli, was another brilliantly played part. He was so funny and was one of those people who only had to stand with an expression on his face and you had to laugh. His dancing and tap dancing showed excellent athletic ability.

The Company worked very well together with the singing and dancing showing how versatile each individual is too. Jenny Leg, the Ballet Girl, should get a special mention for her elegant, graceful dance.

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It was delightful to see the famous scene with romantic lead Don Lockwood (James Leece) singing and tap dancing his way through the rain and splashing the audience!! How the stages hands managed to clear the stage in 20 minutes ready for the second half, I really don’t know! They got their own applause!

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A show to delight all ages, this spectacular held the engrossed audience from start to finish, with the humour, fabulous singing, dancing, acting, scenery, costumes! Everything in fact!! There was not one scene that lacked sparkle.

There was a well deserved standing ovation for all the cast!

If this does not lift you spirits and send you home singing and dancing with a smile on your face, nothing will!!

Milton Keynes Theatre

Tues 01 – 12 July

Matinee Wed 9 and Sat 11 July

Tickets £15.00 - £49.50

Jul 2nd

Murder Weapon at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

I rather hope the Theatre Royal Windsor has started a new trend or, rather, revived an old one.

Back in the day, actors cut their teeth on rep, with one company performing a different play each week. It was a good way for actors to hone their skills, learning a new play while performing another.

Murder Weapon

For the past month TABS Productions have been doing just that, and without any big names to draw them, the audience at this week’s opening night was healthy - and hearty. As we left the auditorium I saw one woman turn to another sitting behind her and say, ‘See you next week?’ ‘You bet!’ came the reply. There was a feeling of camaraderie, and the warmth towards the now familiar actors was palpable.

Murder Weapon, written by creator of The Avengers Brian Clemens, is indeed a worthy contender for the theatre’s Classic Thriller Season.

The ingenious plot is centred around Charley Mirren who, having already served 10 years for murder, is found with gun in hand standing over a dead body. Whodunnit? The fun is finding out!

The culprit, if you’re paying attention, is not too hard to spot. However, how the play gets to its conclusion is chock full of twists and turns which will certainly have you on the edge of your seat.

The members of TABS Productions have already proved their versatility and this play is no exception.

Karen Henson, who directed last week’s production, plays the police chief Jessica Bligh in charge of the murder investigation. Being new at the job and ex-Army, she wants to do everything by the book, but she’s not sure of herself and Henson plays her as lacking in confidence and authority.

In complete contrast, Inspector Fremont is a old hand who just wants to get things over and done with, and Michael Sherwin makes the most of his character’s cynicism; his deadpan delivery is a comic masterpiece.

Jeremy Lloyd Thomas’s portrayal of the murder suspect is another tour de force. Charley isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and Lloyd Thomas brings out his vulnerability and confusion, agitated and with nervous ticks.

Next week TABS Productions present Francis Durbridge’s The Gentle Hook. I’m sorry it’s their last play in Windsor.

Murder Weapon continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until 5 July, and the Classic Thriller Season concludes with The Gentle Hook from 7-12 July.

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk
Jun 18th

The Shadow of the Ghost at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

Repertory was, back in the day, the way actors learned their craft, learning their lines for the following week’s production while acting in the current one.

Nowadays, if they don’t get at least four weeks’ rehearsal they are hard done by, so I greatly admire the members of the cast of the present production at the Theatre Royal who have leapt into other roles.

Now into the second week of their five-week Classic Thriller Season, these members of the TABS Productions’ company are proving just how versatile they are by presenting a world premiere which, while it has connections with last week’s play, sees them playing completely different characters.

Last week’s opening play of the season,The Ghost Train, is a classic comedy written by Arnold Ridley, set in a haunted railway station. The Shadow of the Ghost is set in a theatre where an inept am dram society is rehearsing the said play.

Co-written by Arnold Ridley’s son, Nicholas Ridley, with Chris Ponka, it is a melting pot of suspense, spookiness and side-splitting fun, a sort of Noises Off with more than one spine-chilling twists.

Tales of a manager who hanged himself and an actor’s death on the very stage they are rehearsing, unnerve the few amateurs who have turned up for a Sunday afternoon rehearsal, and when unexplainable things begin to happen, the plot thickens.

Be sure there is a bit of everything in this play; lots of surprises, lots of laughs, more than just a touch of Agatha Christie, and some sterling performances from, among others, Andrew Ryan as Jack Taylor (entirely different in character and looks from his character last week of the idiotic Teddie Deacon) and Susan Earnshaw as the super sleuth Miss Maple!

Slow to start but building up to yet another enjoyable evening, The Shadow of the Ghost has something for everyone.

The Shadow of the Ghost is part of the Theatre Royal Windsor’s Classic Thriller Season and runs until June 21. It will be followed by:

Fatal Encounter from June 23-28

Murder Weapon from June 30-July 5

The Gentle Hook from July 7-12

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk
Jun 18th

Happy Days Milton Keynes Theatre

By Thia Cooper
Happy Days Are Here Again!
Have you got the summer blues? Rain one day - sun the next - no settled weather!! Children driving you mad? You need to go to Milton Keynes Theatre! You’ll come out of the new musical, ‘Happy Days’ performance with tunes annoyingly swimming around in your head and a smile on your face!
Set in 1959, if you’re one of the 50’s baby boomers like me, you will remember Henry Winkler as THE FONZ in the television version of ‘Happy Days’ in the 70’s. Good looking, sexy, full of himself with the perfect hair cut untouched by anyone but himself!! A mirror always nearby. Girls treating him like the star he thought he was. Compulsive viewing in the 70’s as there was very little of that kind of comedy programme around. Set in the late 50’s, it cheered us after the deprivations of Word War Two.
Originally based on the book by Garry Marshall he is still involved with the musical, Set mainly in Arnold’s Diner the Fonz (Ben Freeman) and Pinky Tuscadero (Heidi Range) relight their relationship. Arnold’s is on the verge of closure and need to raise $5000 to stay open. The group try to think of ways of raising this including the Cunninghams and the Leopards (Grrrr!) an all male Lodge.
You go to see it for the visual effect, superb dancing, singing and fun, not necessarily an intense story. Once again, the set design (I know I mention it in every review!) by Tom Rogers is stunning and innovative. It is a folding set, transforming the look over and over again. From Arnold’s diner, to the Cunninghams’ kitchen, the garage and Franklin Park etc.. The costumes were nostalgic as I used to wear dresses just like that!
It is very obvious is that the cast are having a ball and the audience responds appropriately and are happy to get up and dance at the end of the show, leaving everyone on a high.
The cast is well chosen, with Heidi Range and Ben Freeman, just right for the leading roles. They act, sing and dance beautifully and captured the imagination. I noticed that many of the audience, like me, were ‘of a certain age’ and will remember the times well!
Inevitably, with Cheryl Baker in the cast, we had the skirt whisked off whilst standing on a table so everyone could see! Actually she got on and off it rather gingerly and I wondered if the high heels were a hindrance? Nevertheless, it caused amusement in the audience!
As I said at the beginning of this review, if you want a light hearted, happy night out, you know where to go!!
Milton Keynes Theatre
Mon 16 to Sat 21 June 2014
Wed & Sat Mats & 18 & 21 June 2.30pm
Tickets from £17.90 to £42.40
£2.80 transaction fee
0844 871 7652
atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes
Jun 11th

The Ghost Train at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

Shrieks of laughter as well as horror heralded the opening of the Theatre Royal Windsor’s first ever Classic Thriller Season.

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Produced in association with TABS Productions and the Theatre Royal Nottingham, chilling tales from the pens of such writers as Francis Durbridge (creator of the Paul Temple detective series) and Brian Clemens (creator of The Avengers and The Professionals), will be showing over the next five weeks.

The season starts with the comedy thriller The Ghost Train, written in 1923 by Arnold Ridley, best known as Private Godfrey in the TV series Dad’s Army.

Set in 1925 - the year it was first performed - it concerns a group of stranded passengers who are holed up in a haunted railway station overnight.

David Gilbrook’s chilling sound effects together with Alex Marshall’s atmospheric lighting and Geoff Gilder’s station waiting room all help to set the scene for a good night of all-round entertainment, with ghostly goings on working well with the comedy to relieve the tension.

It’s very much a period piece, with old-fashioned manners and a stilted way of talking, rather like in Brief Encounter, though that was to come 20 years later. The language is rather quaint, with nothing stronger than ‘duce’ and ‘beastly’ - amusing in themselves - while the actors throw themselves into their roles with more than a touch of melodrama.

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Andrew Ryan and Susan Earnshaw with Edward Parris. Pic: Mike Swift

My favourite character is Teddie Deacon, a flamboyant and rather idiotic figure played with verve and enthusiasm by Andrew Ryan. Susan Earnshaw also steals a scene or two as the elderly Miss Bourne, especially when she over-indulges on the brandy; Angie Smith adds to the hysteria as the neurotic Julia Price, while Adrian Lloyd-James really makes the most of his part as the station master.

The theme continues on June 16 with The Shadow of the Ghost, co-written by Arnold Ridley’s son Nicholas, which takes place on the set of a production of The Ghost Train in a theatre somewhere in the south west of England.

I can’t wait to see it!

Meanwhile, the Theatre Royal Windsor is not only offering special price tickets but also ghost tours. I’ve been on one and, believe me, that theatre is haunted!

The Ghost Train is part of the Theatre Royal Windsor’s Classic Thriller Season and runs until June 14. It will be followed by:

The Shadow of the Ghost from June 16-21

Fatal Encounter from June 23-28

Murder Weapon from June 30-July 5

The Gentle Hook from July 7-12

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk