Skip to main content

Review of Flash Festival 2016: The Show Must Go On by Lead Feather Theatre Company at Hazelrigg House (Studios)

Much like Sell-By-Date in 2014 took death in it's many guises and made a dark comedy with wonderfully dramatic moments, The Show Must Go On takes cancer and creates a piece much like that Flash classic.

Devised by Penelope May, Jake Rivers and Madeleine Hagerty, who between them are Lead Feather Theatre Company, this is without doubt the most emotionally dramatic play of the week. It centres around Alice (Penelope) and an illness that we eventually learn is cancer. Around her are her brother Ed (Jake) and her friend Sally (Madeleine). The piece is handled with a deft and adult style throughout much of the play as Alice's condition worsens.

There is also a tremendously strong subplot as well with a husband and his cancer affected wife. The husband played by Jake delivers a particularly brilliant and challenging stand-up rountine (shades of Sell-By-Date once again) that builds from guilt laughter from the audience to eventually silence as the tone of the jokes deftly changes. It is for me one of the best scenes of the week.

Less successful for me, and this is very much a style opinion, rather than a criticism, is the doctors scene. I can fully understand the reasons behind the piece as it offers opportunity for very funny moments, and to be fair is very well played and performed. However it does for me jar dramatically alongside the really intelligently played out scenes featuring the Macmillan nurse. I totally get where this scene is coming from, it just didn't work for me.

What did work though is the really strong building undercurrents of sadness. When we get to the final scene as Madeleine emotionally belts out Queen's title song and Ed and the nurse literally pack away Alice's entire life in the background, I am happy to say tears had arrived. Such is the nature of the piece through the stunningly subtle performance from Penelope and her family and friends, you almost at end feel as if you are one of this family.

I am very fortunate to have never lost any family members to cancer, but even with that being the case, this at its most basic is about death. The loss of anyone will be felt while watching a show like this. Indeed even those in the public eye who are highlighted during this piece are enough to make an impact on people. We have lost many to cancer this year, and this play speaks for all of them and therefore leaves an impact on absolutely anyone who gets to see it.


The Flash Festival 2016 runs between Monday 16th and Saturday 21st May, 2016 at four venues across the town. Details can be found at http://ftfevents.wix.com/flashtheatre2016

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Cilla - The Musical at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I have to start with a confession dear reader, what I know about Cilla Black can pretty much be written on the back of the Derngate ticket that I clutched on entering the theatre (and that allows for the advert on the back). I have heard a couple of her tunes of course (more than once) and confess, once again, that I generally didn't like what I heard. I think it's clear that with her natural raw form and voice, "a diamond in the rough" as Brian Epstein, her eventual manager describes her, she a performer that you either love or generally, not hate as such, but perhaps just dislike. I fall in the latter. Curiously as I a forty-year-old, I also don't even fall into the Cilla of hit television either, being a BBC viewing family, I never saw her on TV much when I was growing up.

So, coming almost totally fresh to the world of Cilla, it was a little comforting that for the first act, much of the world of Cilla - The Musical revolves not just around star building Cil…

Review of Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …