Reviews

Simone Webber from the Gloucester Citizen came and reviewed all three plays at the ‘Only In Gloucester’ festival. 

The Gloucester Scriptorium, funded by The Arts Council, was formed by Jarek Adams in 2014 to provide a platform for 12 local playwrights to develop new pieces of theatre working on the theme ‘Only in Gloucester’.

3 young Gloucestershire Directors, each running their own theatre companies, chose one of the plays to perform in 2 Gloucester museums this week.

MPG PRODUCTIONS present “ROTTEN LUCK” by LOU BECKETT, Directed by MIKE GREENMAN at Gloucester Folk Museum 24TH & 25TH July 2015

Director Mike Greenman (MPG Productions) chose Lou Beckett’s “Rotten Luck”. The true stories of 2 Victorians, William (Tom Morecroft) and Celia (Megan Lewis), facing the death penalty when hangings in Gloucester were still common. William has been caught stealing for a 3rd time and Celia’s baby David found drowned.

A simple backdrop with 3 hangman’s nooses provides the setting for this play. Hangman and Narrator Hector Molloy’s clear voice leads us through the various stages of the pair’s stories.

Megan Lewis gave an exemplary expressive performance as the anguished remorseful mother whose baby drowned through no premeditated action and Tom Morecroft presentation, of the loveable rogue who only wanted to better himself, charmed the audience especially when it was “rotten luck” for his reprieve to arrive too late.

Vince Ashby’s (Mill Owner) excellent affronted revengeful entreating prompts the Assizes Judge (Ethan Scott) to make an example of William until Inn Keeper Nell (Vikki Chandler) beseechingly pleads his case.

Glenn Andrews gave a first-rate performance as the Chaplin torn in his duty.

BRICK DOOR THEATRE COMPANY presents “THE DROP OF A PIN” by CAROL SHEPPARD, Directed by LAURA MAY ATTWOOD at Gloucester Folk Museum 25th July 2014

Director Laura May Attwood (Brick Door Theatre Company) chose Carol Sheppard’s “The Drop of a Pin” for this strong cast of 4. This was a Victorian murder whodunit involving a poverty stricken family in Gloucester’s pin making industry, acting as Samaritans, and a well to do mystery gentleman who had been knocked down in the street. There was effective use of lighting changes and character freezing to move time and an innovative use of interspersed audio recordings of the characters voices.

The supper table is laid and a warm glow from the hearth welcomes the audience into the Crabs tiny Victorian cottage parlour.

Rob Coletta (John Crab) gave a solid performance of a factory worker inflicted with work related illness and the weight of family responsibilities on his shoulders.

Dawn Stanley (Martha Crab) superbly swung from worried to flattered and flustered, from terrified to exasperated or tearful. There were amusing duologues with her feisty, stroppy and over imaginative daughter Elizabeth, and what mother of a teenager doesn’t know these. The pair had the audience chuckling with them as they tried to extradite themselves having been nearly caught red-handed riffling through their temporary lodger, Mr Blackshaw’s (Tim Montague) bag. The Crab’s daughter Elizabeth was extremely skilfully played by Lucy Wordsworth with an impressive range of emotions.

Tim Montague was excellent as Mr Blackshaw and thoroughly credible as responsible for the series of Gloucester murders, until he explained why he was in Gloucester.   With an unexpected twist in the plot, after Mr Blackshaw’s departure, it looks like he wasn’t the one responsible, Elizabeth was.

 

IGNITE THEATRE presents “AS SURE AS GOD’S IN GLOUCESTER” by RHONA SMITH, Directed by MARK LLOYD at Gloucester Museum 25th July 2014

The third play of this Scriptorium, directed by Mark Lloyd (Ignite Theatre) was “As Sure As God’s In Gloucester” by Rhona Smith. God’s in Gloucester so things must be ok or are they?  This psychological play follows Matt (Malcolm Modele), an army rifleman trying to adjust to Civvy Street as a Gloucester taxi driver and his 2 best friends from childhood.

The play opens with ex-Squaddies Matt (Malcolm Modele) and Chalky (Mathew Lloyd) raucously singing as they enter through the audience to centre stage.

The audience is kept on their toes as time shifts backwards and forwards for Matt and his 2 best childhood friends. Highly funny and amusing scenes when the boys are being boys on a Class 2 trip to Gloucester Cathedral and when the 2 Comprehensive boys have digs at their cleverer Crypt School friend. 3 childhood best friends, whom remain friends and all join the Army, but then there were 2.

There is clever use of props and the production is interspersed with flashbacks to theatres of war that the trio were involved in and vocal conversations between Mandy, Matt’s sister, and Trish, Matt’s wife.

Malcolm Modele gives a powerful and emotional performance as ex-Squaddie Matt, who married Trish, a girl one of his best friend’s, Chalky, fancied when they were teenagers. Not only is he trying to cope with life out of the army, and considering re-joining, he already has 3 children with Trish, yet having had “the snip”, on his last tour in Germany, finds out she is expecting again.

Christian Miles (Charlie) too gave a strong and sensitive performance of the only one of the trio who made Officer and is still in the Army.

Mathew Lloyd convincingly exhibits several instances of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from his active service and it is not until nearly the end of the play we find out he has been shot and killed on duty.

The trio were ably joined by Grant Murphy as Granddad, a Recruitment Officer and a Drunk.

 

Simone Webber