Not blogged for a while, mainly because ‘life stuff’ keeps getting in the way, but here’s a round up of my most recent theatre reviews.
There are two excellent plays playing at Sheffield Crucible at the moment – Of Kith & Kin and Desire Under The Elms.
Of Kith & Kin is playing in the smaller space of the Studio – I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting when I walked in, I thought it may be a quirky comedy about a gay couple raising a baby, but it turned out to be somewhat darker than that. Written by Chris Thompson, who used to be a social worker, it’s full of biting dialogue and there’s two great performances from the lead two actors, James Lance and Joshua Silver. I still remember Lance from his role in I’m Alan Partridge, but this production gives him a chance to show his more dramatic side.
These aren’t particularly characters you’d want to spend any time with in real life, but it’s good fun watching them. Definitely recommended. Full review in The Stage can be found here
Desire Under The Elms is in the larger main space at the Crucible – it’s written by Eugene O’Neill, who was a contemporary of the likes of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. I’ve never seen any of O’Neill’s plays, but this is a pretty good introduction to him. It’s a long play – over two and a half hours including interval – but it flies by. It’s a pretty simple story – elderly farmer marries much younger woman, who has her eye on his farm and on his son, passions ignite, tragedy strikes and there’s no happy ending.
What distinguishes Desire Under The Elms is the cast – especially the brilliant Aoife Duffin who plays the young wife Annie and, maybe surprisingly for those who just know him from hosting Stars In Their Eyes, Matthew Kelly. The set is also fantastic, it really feels like a dusty New England farmland, and some very clever lighting effects means that a cloudy, moonlit sky literally hangs over the stage.
Finally, I also popped over to Doncaster last week for my first visit to CAST theatre. I’d never been here and was really impressed by it – it’s big, immaculately clean, nice friendly staff, and a decent space. Only 10 minutes walk from the train station as well. Their website is https://www.castindoncaster.com/
Cast played host to a touring production of The Ruck, a play about women’s rugby that had been touring around Yorkshire. I don’t know the first thing about rugby, but like a lot of good dramas about sport, the actual sport is the least important thing about it. Rather, it’s a story about family, identity, community and the growing pains of being a teenage girl. It tells the story of a teenage girls’ rugby team in Batley, who are offered the chance to tour Australia, although all four girls in the team have their own personal problems to deal with, whether it be boyfriend trouble, coming to terms with their sexuality, family problems and religious issues.
Kevin Fegan uses all sorts of devices to tell his story, including verse, songs of all different genres and soliloquies straight to the audience. It’s fresh, funny, full of heart and excellently performed by the young cast. Unfortunately, it’s finished its tour now so I can’t tell you to go and see it, but Fegan is definitely a name worth keeping an eye on.