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Review of Lydia By Any Other Name by Weekes Baptiste at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Lydia By Any Other Name is a sweet gentle little play written and directed Weekes Baptiste. Unpretentious and friendly are two words I would describe it as. It suited that it was receiving its, pause for dramatic effect, World Premiere at the quaint little Looking Glass Theatre.

The play tells the story of a bizarre happening reintroducing two former child stars back to one another and the rather coincidental existence of two Lydia's. Combining live action with archive footage of 8mm film recorded over 25 years is an effective but different approach to one I have seen previously.

The play itself had managed to get over its own little drama just a week before with the lead dropping out, therefore parachuting into place at short notice (script in hand) was Georgina Pearson who given the time constraints gave a nice performance as Rosemary Cooper. Able to discard the script for the second act part. We had three Lydia's in the piece, with a bolshy turn from Eleanor Morrison as twelve year old Lydia Cooper, while the slightly more grown-up sixteen year old version was played by Scarlett Jordan. Completing the collection was Hannah Poole as Lydia Chambers. Although all were great in there roles, my favourite Lydia had to be the dungaree wearing Scarlett. Her performance was lively and wonderfully realistic.

Both Ben Richards as Ethan Chambers and Robin Hillman as Steven Chambers were good value as well, with the latter having probably the most challenging scene. Dressed in hospital gown and talking direct to the audience, it was a slightly surreal scene much different from the previous two. However he delivered it in a wonderfully comic way.

While it was a good entertaining show, there were a couple of issues that didn't work for me. The first were the set changes, I cannot help but think they were far too ambitious and the tables and chairs might have been worked in a different way. While the video footage was playing in the background through most of the changes, the amount of movement going on did detract somewhat from the enjoyment of watching this. The only other fly in the ointment for me was the ending, it all felt very abrupt (it didn't help that there was a slight tech issue on screen). Just ending with all the cast gathering to watch the footage, somewhere over our shoulder seemed a bit disappointing. For me, it would have been nice at this stage to have seen a touch more of the footage on screen that they were watching. Also, I personally don't need to see credits rolling at the theatre, that's just not for me.

However, saying all this I really enjoyed it and it really did gain a lot from the nice down to earth performances of the cast.


Performance reviewed: Friday 29th May, 2015 at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton.

Lydia By Any Other Name runs at the Looking Glass Theatre until Sunday 31st May, 2015.

Tickets are available via the Royal & Derngate Box Office. Their website is at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Looking Glass Theatre also has a website at http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/

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