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Review of National Theatre Connections - Day Two at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

After a slightly mixed first day of productions of the 2015 Connections plays, the second contained two absolutely glorious ones.

*

"Drama, Baby" by Jamie Brittain and performed by Barnwell School was an absolute delight from start to finish. Funny, fresh and superbly performed by the young cast, led by a hysterical star turn by the young chap who played Neil (devoid of a programme again, so sadly no names). While I try not to single out a single person in these shows, he made it quite impossible not to in his performance of the socially awkward and occasionally offensive individual. A slightly abhorrent character that you could not help love because of his performance. However there were many other lovely individual performances from the large cast and all got their moments of glory.
The play itself starts at the final rehearsals of two Theatre Studies groups, and proceeds via a collection of relatively shorts scenes to their final results, and culminates in a reaping what you sow poignant final scene. Throughout it remains likable despite some occasionally tough dialogue and despite being relatively short (like many of these plays), you really get to love and hate the simply drawn characters.

One of the best of the Connections plays I have seen so far and one of the best group performances. I shall see a second interpretation of the play on Sunday and it will be interesting to see if it is as wonderfully performed.

*

The second play of day two was "The Accordion Shop" written by actress Cush Jumbo. Performed by The King's Theatre Company, this was a snappy, clinically performed play. Every section of dialogue is presented after a short sharp section of music where the cast members relocate on stage, always presenting  themselves direct to the audience. It is a nice style and tells a sad tale of Mister Ellody and his shop of the title superbly, although it is never really about the shop to be fair. This is more about a rather random text message and its tragic consequences. I don't mind a rather ambiguous title and I will not say more than that, so that if you are lucky enough to see it, it will come as a surprise to you as well.

Once again we have a generally solid group of performances, with only a couple of slightly weaker performances, mainly on projection to the audience. My couple of picks though have to be the right cockney rebels Rhys Clark and Toby Platt as the "boys". Whenever they were on stage, me old mince pies were nowhere else. A delight, as were both plays of day two. I look forward to three more on Saturday!



Performances reviewed: Thursday 30th April, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.

The National Theatre Connections continue at Royal & Derngate until Sunday 3rd May, 2015. For details go here: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Royal/Connections15

For further details about the National Theatre Connections visit their website at: http://connections.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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