On Stage: Features

Fascinators get ahead

That wild bunch of lasses Fascinating Aida are touring the UK with their show Charm Offensive. Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Liza Pulman first shot to fame as something classier amid the post-punk interlude of big trousers and synethsizers. They’ve been going strong ever since.

Here’s a quick Q&A from the trio.

Storytelling the Ayckbourn way

The SJT has gone music mad. In the McCarthy there’s the duet of Cox and Box and now in the Round comes this musical treatment of an Ayckbourn classic, The Boy who Fell into a Book. The essential secret the plays share is: create the right tone and the audience will go with you, wherever you want to take them.

This case stars 10-year-old Kevin (there’s something about that name – see The Time Bandits and a bunch of others). He takes us on a dazzling trip through his own bookshelf, accompanied by his literary hero Rockfist Slim. The set up is brilliantly managed and Evelyn Hoskins puts in a stellar turn as Kevin, a performance whose sheer charm would melt the hardest heart. Nicolas Colicos as Rockfist is a splendid foil, all hard-boiled cynicism and suspicion. Their journey through time and space is a delightful evocation of the magic of childhood filled with scary, lovable and just plain irritating characters.

The story is perfect for a musical treatment and the songs here are clever, witty and moving. Perhaps the sentimental story means they have to sit squarely within the musical theatre tradition, but it would have been interesting to hear some pushing of the  boundaries – a rap duet between Kevin and Rockfist would surely have sparked. (Cox and Box neatly shows how you can present a musical and subvert it at the same time.)

The lack of young people in the audience might mean this is being aimed at people whose childhood is long gone. But the play is too good for that and could be a great vehicle for getting children into the theatre.

Roger Osborne

 

The Boy who Fell into a Book runs to to 31 August; check sjt.uk.com for details

Reluctant Casanova lands up in Glaisdale

The sexual revolution of the 1960s promised unlimited promiscuity. But Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers proves that there were some exceptions. The play has been announced as the Esk Valley Theatre Company’s summer production.

 

Barney Cashman is an overweight and overworked middle-aged man who dreams of joining the revolution before it’s too late, despite his only previous experience of extra-marital sex being his 15 minutes with a 44-year-old prostitute in Newark, which for a New Yorker represents a new kind of low. In a bid to break out of his mid-life crisis Barney sets up three potential seductions. Elaine Navazio is the hard talking temptress, Bobbi Michele the crazy pot-smoking actress and Jeanette Fisher his best friend’s wife.

 

Simon, the award winning American playwright and screenwriter, is famous for his unique combination of realism and comedy. His focus on the frustrated and insecure silent majority produces plausible and un-heroic characters. It is Simon’s winning comedic and warm hearted formula that has generated hits like Barefoot in the Park and Plaza Suite.

 

Esk Valley, run by Mark Stratton and Sheila Carter, transforms the Robinson Institute into a professional theatre every year. For three weeks each summer the building in Glaisdale is decked out with a 120-seat auditorium and plays host to professional actors recruited through a London based audition process. The company is avidly supported by Alan Ayckbourn and continuously produces high-quality performances. Last year’s production of Same Time Next Year won praise for its ‘significant raising of already excellent standards’.

 

York local Joanne Haywood takes on all three female roles, a far cry from her days of playing the principal boy in the York Theatre Royal Pantomime from the 1990s to 2005. Rodney Matthew stars as the anti-hero Barney.

 

To find out if Barney finally achieves his dreams of sexual freedom contact the Box Office for tickets on 01947 897587.

Caitlin Moriarty-Osborne

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