A Chorus of Disapproval
Paul Johnson | 16 Nov 2013 10:27am
THE urgent need for financial expedience may have led to York Musical Theatre Company’s temporary exit from York Theatre Royal and decision to stage a play, rather than a musical, for the first time, but the audience will be laughing contentedly at Paul Laidlaw’s delightfully smart production.
Alan Ayckbourn’s scathing dissection of the world of amateur operatics is a canny choice for this detour into straight theatre, because it still features snippets of operatic singing (albeit to recorded accompaniment) from The Beggar’s Opera, alongside the hugely humorous (sexual and business) antics of the members of a fellow company, the Pendon Amateur Light Opera Society.
What’s more, the cast of 13 has the chance to show off a broader range of acting skills than the comparative straitjacket of musical theatre allows.
“The characters are so much more rounded”, comments new chairman Richard Bainbridge in his programme notes. Bainbridge has always had skills for comedy, as well as his singing chops, and he excels here as blunt, insensitive, opera-loving Welshman Dafydd ap Llewellyn, Pendon’s constantly exasperated director. Roundhay barrister Ben Caswell has returned to YMTC after a 12-year hiatus and shows no signs of rustiness playing Guy Jones, the opera-society newcomer whose inability to say “No”, whether to women, several moves up the cast list or business propositions, has such an impact on all those around him. Caswell plays it with just the right understatement, his face constantly expressive.
Ayckbourn is a master of women’s roles, and Jennifer Page’s suddenly reignited Hannah Llewellyn and Emma Dickinson’s blonde swinger Fay Hubbard are outstanding in contrasting parts.
The pick of the cameos is Mike Wash’s know-all Jarvis Huntley-Pike, one of those “You can tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him” brand of Yorkshireman.
A chorus of approval all round.
- : user
- : 13/11/2013