Skip to main content

Review of Becket performed by The Masque Theatre at the Guildhall (Great Hall), Northampton

Becket was the fourth play by the Masque Theatre that I have seen and sadly it left me the most disappointed. However not because of anything that the excellent company and organisers did. All the disappointment came from the venue.

The Great Hall in Northampton Guildhall is a most glorious room, stunning height, wonderful decoration. An absolute delight. Well until you sit down and watch a play in it that is. The absolute worst acoustics that I have yet witnessed with so much of the dialogue unheard. And that is with just standard level speech, you can absolute forget it when the characters raise their voices, as that first word reverberates seemingly forever.

I write all of the above with great sadness as what I did follow from this play was excellent and the two leads are both excellent. Tristan Smith especially as King Henry II brings an alarmingly playful approach to the monarch, a twinkle in the eye. Knowing nothing of the play other than the history it portrays (a lot of it very important to Northampton), I was very surprised by how much comedy there was in it. Ste Applegate also gives a lovely performance as Thomas a Becket. The eventually doomed friend of Henry and later Archbishop of Canterbury. Quiet and dignified right until the bitter end.

The rest of the cast (now getting familiar from the other productions) are generally excellent. The scenes in France do admittedly get a little Allo Allo at times and the added effect of an accent on already troubled hearing can be a further problem. However as most of these scenes are played for laughs, the occasionally odd accents have little effect. Other than the two leads it is difficult to single out any further actors, especially from such a vast cast of, I think 28. However as Gwendolyn in just one scene, Ruth Sherry is an absolute delight for her gentle protrayal and singing voice and must surely and hopefully be in Masque's next production Into The Woods.

The production is well directed by Rob Kendall using well the space on offer with actors entering from four different doors with many entering from behind the audience and walking between the crowd.

Overall this is a great play performed by a collection of very fine amateur actors, but suffering from a substandard location, and a play which I want to recommend but also recommend early arrival so that you may get them precious front row seats in the hope of hearing the whole play and not them unforgiving reverberations.

Becket is performed by the Masque Theatre and runs until Saturday, 11th Octorber, 2014 at the Guildhall, Northampton.

For further details visit their website at http://www.masquetheatre.co.uk/


Performance reviewed: Thursday 10th October, 2014 at the Guildhall, Northampton.

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Blue/Orange at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The challenging and socially relevant Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall was published in 2000 and back then, this caustic exploration of mental health, and more specifically black mental health issues, was a tremendously relevant play. When it debuted on stage in London, the cast of just three was played by Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Director James Dacre doesn't have those names to play with so much in his cast, however here, he has worked with the writer himself to rework the play for a more modern audience. Does it still shock, and is the relevance still there today? Sadly, perhaps, the answer is yes, as doctors Bruce Flaherty and Robert Smith come to verbal blows over the health of patient Christopher, at times, you feel 21 years shed little light on how mental health is approached. Many references in the script, still sit unquestionably in the year 2000, however, with this reworking, one thing has changed dramatically. In the original version of the play, the two

Review of Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

South Pacific at Royal & Derngate last year set a remarkable benchmark for an "amateur" production, with a large talented cast, superb vocals, sets and a polish up there with a professional production. Sister Act, this years production from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company was more of the same, but perhaps taken up a notch or two. Sister Act is a musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy and was first performed in 2009. Written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, it is a likable and fun musical which genuinely came as a surprise to me. The opening scene at Curtis's Bar and Nightclub is to be honest not the best though and genuinely didn't fill me with much hope. It feels as if it gives nothing to the cast, although it creates the premise of the story coupled with the incident outside the bar. Likewise, I didn't take much to the Police Station scene either, so it didn't bode well. When we reach the Queen Of Angels Cathedral though, this show

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c