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A CurtainUp London Review
A Chorus of Disapproval
As the annoyingly, aggressively Welsh, light opera amateur director Dafydd ap Llewellyn, Trevor Nunn has cast popular comedian Rob Bryden in his first acting role. Bryden does very well as the soon to be cuckolded local solicitor looking for kudos and escape through control of the amateur thespians. Steven Edis steps outside of his normal musical director role to play in addition, Mr Ames, the long suffering pianist. Guy’s audition as he renders a great Welsh classic anthem in English is constantly pre-empted by Dafydd, the director as he cannot resist singing first. Life imitates art when Guy Jones gets involved with two women, one the wife of his friend, Ashley Jensen is Hannah Llewelleyn in the opera as Polly Peachum, and the other the vampish Fay Hubbard (Daisy Beaumont) who, with her husband, relieves marital boredom in the small provincial town by inviting couples to swinging parties.
It is always difficult for professional actors to convey the wooden, awkward acting of amateur dramatists and the lovely Nigel Harman has to hold back when he is onstage as Macheath. The terrible wig does help of course. I am not sure that we really understand his motivations as Guy and the scene in the café with Hannah is touching but doesn’t leave the audience with anywhere to go. The pompous Dafydd will pour his heart out about the difficulties of his sexless marriage, unaware that all these confidences are being relayed on the tannoy to the whole cast. I liked Rob Compton’s mod with braces and Doc Marten boots Crispin Usher, and the conflict he causes like his part as the original Macheath in dating two girls at once. Georgia Brown is strong as one of Crispin’s girls, the fesisty Bridget Baines, stage manager and behind the bar in her father’s pub.
Rob Jones’ sets are superb and numerous— from amateur stage, to local pub, to black painted backstage walls to local café. Sadly the play felt a bit lame, rather slow, not as funny as Noises Off and not as clever as Ayckbourn’s other plays and with less developed pathos to the comedy.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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