I must admit that this is not a play that I was familiar with, but some research showed that the lead role was performed by Mark Rylance originally, for which he won many awards and the play many plaudits. The play has a reputation for being, shall we say 'edgy', due to the adult content, including frequent strong language. An interesting and laudable choice for a local theatre group. The play revolves around the character of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, played by Marlon Gill. A loner, living in a caravan close to a new Housing estate, the residents of which would like to see the back of him. A larger-than-life character, living on the edge of the law.
I still have strong memories of watching Abigail's Party on the BBC back in 1977. I was a young teenager and alternately bemused, amused and appalled at what I saw and heard. It left a lasting impression and I have followed the work of Mike Leigh and Alison Steadman ever since. It is not the safest of choices for a local theatre, although it can be hilarious in places, the characterisation is very strong and the reputation of the original production is so strong that any new production has a lot to live up to.
Holly Road Productions (Ben Hill and St Albans local Alex Bell) are presenting 6 new short plays written in response to theme of "White Lies" which will premiere over two weekends in August. The plays will be directed by Stanley Walton (another St Albans local) and star just 4 actors. The actors Tom Crowhurst, Liam Hynes, Daisy May Parsons and Sarah Cullum will have one day to rehearse each play and will be playing all characters. The entire production will be designed by Wimbledon College of Arts graduate Lauren Woodward and will feature original music composed by Henry Mitton.
Kenneth Grahame’s enduring tale of Mole, Ratty, Badger, Mr Toad, and their many friends, comes to the Abbey Theatre this Christmas. This stage version of The Wind in the Willows, by Alan Bennett, with additional lyrics and music by Jeremy Sams, caused a popular sensation when it first appeared at The National Theatre in 1990. It has since become a classic in its own right.
Bugsy Malone Live is based on the 1976 hit musical gangster comedy film Bugsy Malone. The film centres around the grit and glamour of 1920’s New York, Chicago and the exploits of real-life gangsters and molls – but the cast were all child actors. QYT are holding Open Auditions for budding young performers aged between 7 and 25 years on Sunday 8th July at the Hertford Theatre, The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PS. Doors will open for registration at 10.30am for what will be a fun-packed, exciting day running from 11am to 3.30pm.
Jerusalem, the anthem of the Women’s Institute, and popular hymn, is a symbol of England and its “Green and Pleasant Land”. Jerusalem the play, written by St. Albans local Jez Butterworth, is a completely different kettle of fish. First performed at The Royal Court in 2009, to great acclaim, it is set in the archetypal English village of Flintock, in the heart of Wiltshire, and covers twenty four hours in the life of Johnny “Rooster” Byron.
Another strong production by The Company of Ten. Well acted and staged. High quality theatre. This is a play that The Company of Ten should be highly suited to and indeed they are! All the main characters are credible and well-acted by the cast. The costumes and scenery are spot on in achieving a look and feel of a pre-war English country house. A very enjoyable and entertaining evening. Highly recommended, running till October 20th.
Touring theatre company Peppermint Muse has made a bold choice with its next production, Death and Dancing, which is coming to St Albans in the first week of February. Written by Claire Dowie, who based the play on some of her original stand-up comedy material, Death and Dancing is set against the backdrop of eighties sexual politics. It is a fast and furious comedy that attacks conventional notions of gender and labelling.
This was the first time I had seen a performance in the studio part of the Abbey Theatre. I must say I liked the intimacy this created. Allowing the audience to feel a part of the production, almost. The play is quite short, in two acts of 45-50 minutes or so and this felt right. All the dialogue and action had meaning and impact.
The next production by the Company of Ten will take audiences back to the 1970’s, with one of the best loved comedies of the time, Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh. Like most of Leigh’s projects, Abigail’s Party was devised by the cast developing their characters and the story through improvisation.
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