Only When I laugh. Love and Madness Ensemble. 6-4-09

On the whole this was a bit disappointing. The writing is built on cliches- the bitter, drunken comic- the feckless young dancer who’s a good girl really- the straying husband- the controlling wife etc. It never really got beyond that and came over as rather old fashioned. Jack Shepherd ( a major tv name) wrote it and played a hapless theatre manager. His acting was a little underpowered and very truthful (I suppose the kind that you need for tv) and it made some of the cast look rather hammy. A good audience, almost all older people, as this was tailor made for Scarborough. I liked Nicole Schneider and would like to have seen her in one or two of the other roles on her resume- Portia particularly. One or two of the others were a little weak- but with better writing they may have had more of a chance.
In a period piece with very little set more attention should have been paid to the costumes. They were not really good enough- especially close up- and I don’t think that a Janey Shore type singer would have worn a dress like the one she was given. It was more like a Debenhams prom dress than a 50’s crooner one.
It really needed to show us some of the characters we were seeing backstage doing their acts. In the dying seconds we were shown the comic on stage but that wasn’t enough. Chance for a bit of depth and irony there which was missed.
Great shame. I would have loved to see a play tackling these themes which really worked. I love the period and saw a lot of, slightly later, variety theatre in the sixties/seventies.

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