Skip to main content

Review of Moonlight And Magnolias at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I have a confession to make from the outset here, I have neither read or have any recollection of ever having seen the movie Gone With The Wind. Incredible for sure for such a classic, but I feel certain that if I had watched a four hour film at any point in my life, I might have remembered it.

This allowed me to feel the pain of the conscripted screenwriter Ben Hecht (Jof Davies), who hasn't read the book, as producer David O Selznick (Graham Follett) and Victor Fleming (Victor Guse) attempt to bring the novel to life in front of him. There are times that writer Ron Hutchinson perhaps makes Moonlight and Magnolias a little too wordy, however it does make the shear panic of the five day script writing our pain as well as those trapped in this cramped office with no other company than bananas, peanuts and occasional startled visits from Selznick's confused assistant Miss Poppenguhl (a nice performance of descending panic from Kate Ellis).

It's a fun and chaotic play based, so we are led to be believed, on relatively true events of the desperate (and successful) attempt to finish the script for the 1024 page book in five days. The cast of four are all great in their roles and for the best part deliver their lines in confident American accents. Wide-eyed and frequently distraught Ben Hecht is perfect in the hands of the superb Jof Davies, allowing once again with a larger role (and his first for Playhouse) the ability to flesh out that strong character skill that he has.

Graham Follett making his final appearance after twelve years with the Playhouse is his usual assured self in the role of producer Selznick. Over performing the characters from the book perfectly and being increasingly out of control as the days of his self imposed incarceration increase.

Victor Fleming played by Victor Guse is the perfect foil for the two characters, playing the almost dormant part of the trio as he frequently spends his time in the confines of the couch. His moments of glory come the re-enactments of the book, whether he is the love interest or giving birth on the couch.

The Playhouse is always at its best when it is presented with a single set play such as this (and indeed much my personal favourite in any case) and this allows not only a gorgeous set to be created once again by Mark Mortimer, but director Corinna Leeder to concentrate on the simple things rather than set movement. It is all presented with clarity to the audience with the three locations of main desk, writing table and couch the hotbeds of action, this all allows the production to flow easily. I did particularly like the scene where presenting towards the audience, some nice lighting effects were used for illustration, a neat touch indeed.

This being an opening night, there were a couple of technical issues and some minor script faus pas, however for a first night it was one of the smoothest that I have seen recently and you can certainly see that a lot of work has gone into making this as clean as it is.

So an interesting play well performed. It can at times feel quite a wordy exercise and perhaps comes best suited to someone who is a little more family with the book or movie itself. However either way it is an entertaining little farce which will leave you with a smile on your face as the curtain comes down.


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 20th September, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Moonlight And Magnolias runs at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 24th September, 2016.

For full details of the Playhouse Theatre visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/ and can be found on Twitter @PlayhouseNTH

Popular posts from this blog

Review of DNA by University of Northampton BA Actors at Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, London

The final year performances of BA Actors this year upped sticks and headed away from their Northampton Royal territory and gathered to show their skills in London.

The first of the three shows being performed was Dennis Kelly's DNA, a play which I saw performed on the Royal stage itself four years ago. I enjoyed it for its dark mysterious nature and was looking forward to seeing a different interpretation of the show. It tells the tale of a group of youngsters who do something really bad, and proceed to attempt to cover it up, resulting in the real bad, well, getting more bad. It's dark yes, but also, very funny at times.

It opens with a looming movement piece of theatre, which I always love and this was no different for me, brooding and sinister. It's quite a long opening, which perhaps, in the end, becomes too long, but it's a fabulous piece of theatre for me. It set's the scene very well for Kelly's dark piece to unfold and in the hands of these, about to gr…

Flash Festival 2018: Persecuted by United-Force Theatre Company at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

It's perhaps a shame that the major talking point after United-Force Theatre Company's production of Persecuted is its final scene, and more so over the sheer realism of it, rather than anything directly related to the acting and writing of it. The shame is that it overshadows what is quite a brilliant piece of theatre in its own right, well constructed and superbly acted by the trio in the group, Alexander Forrester-Coles, Chris Tyler and Radostin Radev.

The date is 11th May 2005 and the Iraq War is no longer having the initial success that it had after destroying Sadam Hussain's regime. In a camp in Basra, Mohammed bin Osama bin Laden (Radostin Radev) is captured and under interrogation by commander James Farrell (Alexander Forrester-Coles), the good cop of the story, and Dan (Chris Tyler),  a Lieutenant, very much of the bad cop variety.

It's an ugly, but also a very vivid tale, claustrophobic and always intimidating. When the actors are not churning through the int…

Flash Festival 2018: Drained by Open Eye Theatre at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

Back in 2015 when I was attending my second year at the Flash Festival, I had the pleasure of seeing a show called I Forget What I’ve Forgotten, a solo show performed by the superb Catherine Garlick, it was very much based on personal experiences, and it was one of very few Flash shows that I have made time to see a second time. That second time, it became the only Flash that I stood at the end of (to date), and it was the first that emotionally hit me hard.

While I didn't stand at the end of Open Eye Theatre's Drained (I was incredibly close), it left me a spent force of emotion. My fellow blogger and companion of the week The Real Chrisparkle, witnessed my tears, and I was actually perhaps as emotional as I have ever been at the end of any theatre show.

Drained was a slow burner of emotion, which I guess just gently took hold like no other before. Our three characters, Laura (Bryony Ditchburn) and her two brothers, Will (Robert Charles) and Jamie (Jake Wyatt) gather at the wa…