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Review of The Dame Of Sark at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I am beginning to enjoy many of the amateur productions that Northampton offers as much as many of the professional ones. Some would say that this should be at odds with common sense because they have neither the budget, the time or the skilled actors (shall stop your right there buster). This is amateur dramatics darling, that is what it is all about. I have taken a liking a little more to these amateur ones perhaps because the performers seem more human to my unskilled eye. They occasionally fluff their lines, much like I forget to buy the milk. They didn't last night though at the rather quaint Playhouse Theatre. Maybe a hesitation or two, but certainly nothing involving cries from behind stage.

The stage in question was, to quote the programme "the drawing room of the Seigneurie of Sark" and rather lovely it was as well. A typical am-dram set, not complicated and very functional. The play that took place upon it was The Dame Of Sark by William Douglas Home (brother of the slightly more famous Alec). This in turn was based upon the true story of Sibyl Hathaway and her life during the six year occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War. She was the Dame of the title, effectively leader of the island and a hereditary position.

On stage for most of the play, Rosa Follett was a delightful Sibyl, at turns sad but more impressive when attempting to get under the skin of the occupying forces. She held the whole piece together well and with such a large role this was vital. The support however were equally impressive. Jem Clack who I had previously seen in The Mystery Of Irma Vep was much more effective in this, and oddly enough considering the tone, also much funnier. He also held a quality American accent throughout that was both solid but not awkward on the ear.

While on the subject of accents though, I have to say these were very, very (too very's, read them!) good. Most especially Hugh Jones as Major Lanz, who sounded quite supremely German, and this held extremely well also in those typical German soldier shouting moments required later in the play. This was no Allo Allo, that's for sure.

However my quiet star of the show was Graham Follett as Colonel von Schmettau. He was unassuming and simply superb as the compassionate German, and whenever on stage was where the eye went. Everything from his gentle demeanour to his softly spoken words was just, well a delight to see and was worth the entry fee alone.

Although only my second visit to the Playhouse, I have to say it is proving to be a lovely little place to go. The Dame Of Sark is not only a powerful story, but it is also being performed really rather well at the Playhouse. A quiet and gentle delight of a play despite the subject matter and one well worth catching.


Performance reviewed: Wednesday 28th January, 2015

The Dame Of Sark continues at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 31st January, 2015. For full details visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/

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