A selection of Bath Drama's reviews

and awards...

      


 

Posted on 10th January 2017

 

Dick Whittington by Gill Morrell

A Bath Drama production

Rondo Theatre, Larkhall, Bath

11th - 13th January at 7.30pm

tickets 0333 666 3366.

You thought it was all over? Well it will be soon, but there’s still time to catch a panto at the Rondo.

Classic Dick Whittington and his cat (Tiddles, a little gem from Cherry Bull-Lifely) but unclassically they get to Morocco after a shipwreck (cue very clever Davy Jones’ locker light effects).

Naturally there’s a dame (Ryan Aherin), a likeable fairy (Cara Aldous), Alderman Fitzwarren (Jeremy Reece), villainous Queen Rat (Helen Corking and her Ratlets) and a great Idle Jack (on form Thomas Menezes).

Throw in terrific sets, lavish costumes plus a live band, hero Dick (suitably striking Issy Jacob), his amour Alice Fitzwarren (Josie Palmer), a hatful of other characters and what more could you want?

So it’s not too late, get the children bundled up and down to Larkhall for traditional pantomime and perhaps you’ll give them a taste for theatre, instead of laptop, mobile phone and Facebook. You know it makes sense.

Philip Horton

 

Enchanted April by Matthew Barber at The Rondo Theatre - directed by Maurice Smith, October 2015

 

 

"Contemporary plays with strong roles for women are relatively rare so it must have been quite a shock when the book, The Enchanted April, was adapted for the stage in the 1930s.

Four women, stereotypes maybe but all very different, tire of dreary wet London and dreary lives then, following an ad in the Times, "To those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine," rent an Italian castle on the coast for a month.

Eventually various male partners arrive but not before the women have changed attitudes to each other and life for the better.

A charming period piece then, but the women largely rule while the men take minor roles, in contrast to their London lives. There's plenty of sharp, witty dialogue with dizzy Lotty (played to perfection by Amanda Sandiford-Sterkenburg) leading the way. "Honestly Lotty, you'd make Pollyanna ill," says the rather stuffy dowager Mrs Clayton Graves (Nadine Comba in matron mode), who also comments: "Inheritance is so much more admirable than acquisition."

With wonderful sets (particularly the second half set in Italy) and equally outstanding period costumes, this is an excellent, if ultimately feel-good, production from Bath Drama. But happy endings were de rigeur in those days and it makes almost a pleasant change, certainly appreciated by the first night audience."

Philip Horton  

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The Arrest of Ai Weiwei by Howard Brenton at The Rondo Theatre - directed by Colin Barnes, April 2015


"And now for something completely different.

   A Kafkaesque tale of the arrest, in 2011, of the Chinese activist and contemporary artist, subsequently released 81 days later.

   Howard Benton's imagined version of these events is convincingly chilling. State meets art in a condition of mutual misunderstanding but, of course, the state is in control.

   Initially the police who arrest Ai Weiwei believe they've arrested a murderer and he's interrogated as such, but subsequently he's asked to confess as an artist, or is it agitator, or perhaps con-man selling his rubbish for a fortune?

   There's a suitably stylish, sparse black set with red chairs, atmospheric lighting plus plenty of sinister minders and apparatchiks.

   Mike Harley is ideal as the slightly dishevelled, baffled artist and, always on stage, carries the play. However, the remaining cast are equally excellent and not the sort I'd like to meet on a dark night.

   If your idea of a good night out is the Theatre Royal's annual version of The Importance of Being Earnest then it's likely that this isn't for you, but if you're up for something more cutting edge then this definitely is for you. Catch it if you can.


Philip Horton


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Three Sisters by Anton Chekov - April 2014


"Chekhov's masterpiece about three sisters marooned in provincial Russia whilst yearning for the promised land of Moscow was apparently inspired by the situation of the Bronte sisters living in the middle of the Yorkshire moors.

   It has been revived in modern dress recently but this production adheres to the original with particularly authentic costumes and uniforms and two excellent sets.

   The sisters, played perfectly by Caroline Murray, Lucy Perry and Jasmine Blackburn respectively, grew up in Moscow and long to return.

   Their ineffectual brother has a love interest in the young volatile and domineering Natasha (a terrific flashy, sparky Natasha Harper-Smith) whom he later marries.

   The town is largely occupied by the army, many of whom feature with the family, including Mike Harley as the wonderfully boozy doctor, well past doctoring or caring, as he says, "Life's an illusion. We don't exist, it only seems that way."

   Hopes remain unfulfilled as the army prepares to leave, and the sisters dreams of returning to Moscow recede.

   Hardly a bundle of laughs then, but an important play well produced and worth seeing for lovers of serious theatre."


Philip Horton


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Three Card Trick - April 2013


"Three new plays by three local authors with three directors and three casts; what's not to like? If you don't like the first one there'll be another along in, well, 30 minutes or so. More contrast in three plays would be almost impossible to imagine.

   Jeff Meets The Devil in a Little Chef kicks off the evening. Written by Helen Parker, the title sums it up. Salesman Jeff stops for a coffee to be served by waitress Shaniqua who's more interested in her mobile phone and mother's latest sexual exploits. A black clad stranger turns up, the Devil hardly in disguise (sorry Elvis), pointing out man's folly, "Humanity, your cheque has bounced, time to pay out." He thinks Jeff's a great salesman who could do the job of selling him to the world.

   A Place of Truth by Colin Barnes which follows is set 1,200 years BC in the long gallery of an Egyptian Tomb. Ramak, an elderly artisan whose family has completed murals in tombs for generations, is joined by Neb, a young painter good at everything except respect and knowing his place. Think Vermeer meets Damian Hirst and you're in the parish. They row accompanied by the intermittent screams of a tomb robber. It verges on the knockabout; great fun, except for the robber.

   Finally it's Clare Reddaway's Scam, and we've all been there, almost. Modern charity workers, Griff and Anna, recently returned from a holiday in Africa, are trying to buy a new flat so have serious cash for the deposit. But Anna has mysterious phone calls of screams, which turn out to be from Abdi, who they met on holiday. He tells Anna he's been captured and needs cash, which they have. Scam or not is the question. This is the only play not run as one scene, jumping rapidly and from place to place it's sharp, fast and effective.

   Never a dull moment in this celebration of new writing and original ideas. Well worth the trip to Larkhall."


Philip Horton

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Three Card Trick


"Three new plays in one evening is the latest offering from Bath Drama. All scripts are relatively short, themes differ and the creativity of these writers is evident.

   The first play, Jeff Meets The Devil in a Little Chef by Helen K Parker is self explanatory, it is left to super salesman Jeff (Mark Hale) to try and save the human race, there is a dark thread running through the dialogue and Shaniqua (Al Cubbin) the hapless employee more interested in her mobile phone than serving customers is brought to account by "the ultimate debt collector." The script could benefit from a little editing to keep the pace alive, but a thought provoking final argument from The Stranger (Mike Harley).

   The Place of Truth by Colin Barnes is a highly imaginative story set in the long gallery of an Egyptian tomb, the two characters Ramak (Peter Benson) and Neb (Ashley Shiers) have opposing views on death and the afterlife. They need to finish the murals and in the midst of their differences, strive to find some common ground. This was well placed in the programme to allow Scam by Clare Reddaway to bring us back to the dark realities of the world around us.

   This is a highly topical play and somehow felt like a great radio drama waiting to be extended. A young couple (Ashley Shiers and Sophie Brooks) are looking for a new home but their peace is destroyed by a phone call asking for financial help to save a friend from Africa from being tortured to death. The dilemma is whether this is a scam or would a swift input of $15,000 really save his life. Well performed with a strong script which I am sure will be seen again.

   This selection of plays is a must for anyone looking for some interesting new writing, Bath Drama again proving to be a highly versatile company who are not afraid of supporting emerging and established writers and their work."


Petra Schofield


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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - January 2013


"Given that most people woke to a landscape that clearly belonged to Narnia, never would a production be better suited to the time of year.

   Bath Drama has taken on a challenging adaption of the C.S.Lewis classic by Glyn Robbins and has worked a little bit of magic at the Rondo this week. The staging is by far the winner, with a design from Bolingbroke Design Service and some excellent art work by David Wood.

   Performances are good, with Anne Roberts catching the fun of Lucy and never straying away from being a young girl. Alex Oliviere-Davies is the White Witch whose powers dwindle with the arrival of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve; Jeremy Fowlds is a commanding Aslan who helps Edmund (Al Cubbin) see the error of his ways and ensure that the children become the next rulers of Narnia. The original music by Moray Macdonald complemented the production and allowed dancing from the always impressive Curtain Up theatre school children.

   Directors Charlotte and Judith Howard have taken on a demanding play with a large company, the virtually full house at The Rondo and the subsequent ticket sales for the week has shown it to be a commercial success; which is good news for local drama groups in the current climate."


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The Turn of the Screw - October 2012


"This classic thriller by Henry James has been the subject of many adaptations over the years; a Governess sent to a country house to care for two orphan children whose Uncle wants nothing to do with, as time progresses all is not what it might seem and life becomes both terrifying and challenging for the Governess and her fight to protect the children in her care.

   Bath Drama have used the small Rondo space to great effect, this coupled with a technically challenging piece both in terms of lighting and sound design deftly controlled by Tony White and Chris Constantine, the group have produced a truly chilling, atmospheric tale with some great performances thrown in for added pleasure.

   The absolutely pivotal and demanding roles of the children, Miles and Flora, played on this occasion by Toby Fox Evans and Felicity Ingledew are crucial to the impact of the piece. In these two young actors Bath Drama have struck gold, their skill and maturity totally at odds with their ages; Toby bringing a good mix of boyish arrogance and charm alongside Felicity, a completely charming, capable and at times highly manipulative young girl. Their relationship onstage is believable and honest - highly impressive.

   As the governess, Alex Oliviere-Davies is thrust into a world which is impossible to understand and her overwhelming need to protect the children, whilst attending to orders not to contact anyone outside the house, results in a living terror; this is an accomplished performance, the use of voice-over is particularly effective in allowing the turmoil to take its toll.

   Supported well by Nadine Comba as Mrs. Grose and Amy Baldwin as Daisy, the essential characters who provide the back ground that the Governess needs to comprehend their troubled lives, this is a strong production all round."


Petra Schofield, The Bath Chronicle


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The Vortex - April 2012


"Coward's earliest real success, this play was first performed in 1924 with Coward in the lead role as Nicky, a part he wrote with himself in mind. Set in a country house with what one might call the 'usual suspects' - an array of apparently vacuous upper class characters with a good line         in witty but seemingly empty dialogue. So far, so Coward. But over the three acts the lightness becomes darkness, culminating with a tempestuous finale in the third scene. At the centre is Nicky, returning from Paris with a cocaine addiction and new fiancée (homosexuality being only vaguely hinted at), and his sexually voracious mother, Florence; each played to perfection by Rob Dawson and Charlotte Howard respectively. Florence is married to David: "He's grown old while I've stayed young. It does muddle one up so," she explains, as one of the house guests is current lover Tom, coincidentally an old flame of Bunty, Nicky's fiancée. But as friend Helen tells her, "You've never loved anyone, you only love them loving you." As mother and son's secrets are revealed, the characters and relationships are revealed, and they're not pretty.    "Civilisation makes rottenness so much easier," says Nicky.

   Two superb sets and period dress with consistently spot on acting make for an evening that grips until the final curtain. Don't miss one of the lesser performed Coward plays. It's terrific."


The Bath Chronicle


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Jack and the Beanstalk - January 2012


"Director Sue Le Page serves up traditional panto fare of magic, romance, slapstick, farce and dreadful jokes in this jolly version of Jack and the Beanstalk written by Damian Trasler, David Lovesy and Steve Clark.

   The songs are good with a fine duet in I Need a Hero, sung by Emilie Giotti (Princess Rose) and Olivia Hussey (Petal) and a funny number called A Witch's Lot is Not a Happy One.

Alex Oliviere-Davies, also in good voice, makes a confident Idle Jack while Derek Le Page clearly enjoys holding centre stage as Dame Trott.

   Other stars are Charlotte Howard, vampishly excellent as the evil Poison Ivy who pits her wits against the delightful Fairy Beansprout (Lesley Castens) - until good triumphs as it should in pantoland and she loses her power and her wand to Dozy Den.

Special praise should go to Buttercup the cow, played by Amy and Lucy Baldwin who manage some sprightly tap dancing, not to mention running around the auditorium. It can't be easy if you're the back end of a cow.

   The sets are good, with a colourful village and scaled-up giant's kitchen, and Moray Macdonald provides excellent keyboard accompaniment.

The production offers lots of silliness, laughter and the opportunity to boo, hiss and of course sing Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo several times over... after three rounds of pretty much compulsory audience participation in the singing of Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, Bath Drama was roundly applauded for its efforts.

   The stars of the Bibbidi-Bobbidi experience were the exuberant Joel Lintern - hugely funny throughout the show as Dozy Den - and Guy Smallwood, stepping lightly into the not inconsiderable part of Prime Minister with just one week's notice.

Like true pros they joked and cajoled until they had the audience joining in, well, almost lustily, and certainly on their side, until it was time for curtain up on the final wedding scene.


The Bath Chronicle

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Antony and Cleopatra - October 2011


"...The stars of Bath Drama's latest production certainly put some sizzle into the set. Alex Oliviere-Davies makes a splendidly sinuous Cleopatra, all glitter and smouldering blue eyes, to Andrew Morrison's soldierly Mark Antony. Poor bloke. He never stood a chance against the wiles of the Egyptian queen, leaving a trail of destruction and broken promises in the wake of his own desires. Shakespeare's tale of all-consuming passion set against the rise and fall of empires is given a lively new airing in this adaptation directed by Adrian Philpott. It's like watching a soap. You know it's going to end in tears and it does so spectacularly in the dramatic suicide of Antony with some rather wonderful deathbed groaning. Cleopatra, rather than submitting to Caesar (Adam Rodgers), takes a more queenly way out via a quite realistic-looking asp before she sinks gracefully to her death among her courtiers. The director's set design, with artwork by David Wood, is excellent in its simplicity. And the women look perfectly elegant in their flowing robes…"


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The History of Tom Jones - June 2011


"'What a master of composition Fielding was,' wrote Samuel Coleridge, 'upon my word, Tom Jones is one of the three most perfect plots ever!'

   So how to turn this perfect plot of 900 pages into an evening of entertainment fit for the great English outdoors? Well the rain did its best to dampen any ambitions. But with a few hastily erected shelters and the enthusiasm of a resolute cast, good humour and playfulness prevailed.

The story is, in many ways, an archetypal romp populated by theatrical caricatures in which young love triumphs, and the large cast excelled in bringing to life this happy story to a dreary outdoors. There were many fine performances, so much so that it would be churlish to single any out for special approval. The strength of this production was that everybody played their parts magnificently.

   The action was quick fire and continuous: scenes and locations changed quickly. Props were minimal: a muslin screen (much windblown) to denote the interiors and two box structures which by being arranged differently could serve as beds, grassy knolls, inn tables, carts and a gallows.

   The gorgeously authentic costumes of Veronica Randle were stunning and the inclusion of a well-heeled gavotte in the Vauxhall Gardens scene was a magnificent showcase for them.

The profits from the performances were donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and this connection certainly drew in some audience members but in truth, dear friends, it was just as likely to have been the bawdy bits. Of which there were many!"


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Robin Hood and His Merry Men - January 2011


"What a very merry band of men (and women, and women dressed as men, and men dressed as women) they were - there was more cross-dressing in Nottingham Forest than ever there was in the Forest of Arden.

   And didn't they just love it? What is it about men in tights or men in frocks that reduces grown blokes to naughty schoolboys with plenty of nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes around the 'camp' fire? Geddit?

   Of course it was all in the best possible taste and the finest tradition of pantomime.

This production of Robin Hood written by Robin Bailes and Jonathan Hales, was an uproarious romp from start to finish.

   The opening night audience - most of whom were probably cast groupies or relatives - threw themselves into the responses with plenty of banter back and forth.

What characterised the show more than anything was the sheer fun of it - the silliness, the corny jokes and the willingness of everyone watching to engage in sing-alongs and look-behind-you responses.

   The songs were great, from the Sheriff's rendition of Great Balls of Cash through a Robin and Maid Marion duet of You're The One That I Want, to a very funny variation on I Really Can't Stay between the Sheriff and panto dame Jemima Gusset.

   Director and choreographer John Pamplin stepped into the role of Jemima at the 11th hour as though he had found his true calling.

   John was superb, a genuinely funny man, even when he was obviously lost for words in some of the choruses, and one of those actors who instantly has the audience on his side.

Steve Huggins made a fantastic boo-hiss baddy of the Sheriff of Nottingham, along with his sexy henchwomen Lady (Claire Wilkins) and Gaga (Diluki Kevitiyagala). Those two really gave it up with their raunchy version of Great Balls of Fire.

   Carina Baverstock gave a robust performance as Robin Hood, if outshone by the humorous antics of his merry men - Ian Crook as a camp Will Scarlett, Joel Lintern as Little John and Philip Holme as Friar Tuck - and Lesley Castens made a lively narrator as Ellen-a-Dale.

Rachel Hodson and Charlotte Howard made light work of playing two feisty wenches as Maid Marion and Jim (Gymkhana Thatch) respectively.

   Daisy the Cow was a delight, played superbly by Amy and Lucy Baldwin.

If you want a laugh, take the kids and go and see this show. It's a cracking piece of entertainment."


Jackie Chappell, The Bath Chronicle


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They Never Noticed A Thing - October 2010


"They Never Noticed A Thing is the latest play from local playwright Stephen Curtis and a comedy that follows the ups and downs of theatre life. It is a 'play within a play' that finds the humour in all the things that can all too easily go wrong.

   The plot concerns ordinary family life and relationships, in particular Eddy (Rod Moor-Bardell), an accident-prone amateur actor whose only desire in life is to please his wife. Set in Bath in the 1950s, the lives of the families often seem troublesome. Minnie (Alex Oliviere-Davies) is pregnant with her eleventh child, one of which is Angie (Jazz Hazelwood), a very keen actress hoping to lose her broad Bristolian accent to pursue her dream.

   Herbert (Marc Delangri), Angie's on-off boyfriend does all he can to help her but ends up more of a hindrance. New neighbours Maxine (Charlotte Howard) and Eddy are desperately trying for a baby but have been unsuccessful and are so frustrated by Minnie's seemingly easily produced brood.

   As the play is set in Bath and Bristol, local references within the script such as Newbridge, Weston-Super-Mare and mention of the old cinemas in Bath raised laughs of recognition from the audience.

I   t would also seem that most of the audience were in the acting profession themselves. With references to Rose Bowl awards, mock over-acting scenes and superstitious acts carried out by the drama club producer Dorothy Spurgeon (Nadine Comba) on their 'stage within a stage' there were roars of appreciative laughter and ripples of sniggers.

You really either had to know the area or know acting to appreciate these little added remarks, but the plot beneath was for everyone to enjoy.

   Alex Oliviere-Davies in Minnie's character shone the brightest. She was very comfortable in her role and it showed. The crowd warmed to her West Country dialect and she had the typical mumsy quality.

   As well as Minnie, it was the other older players who seemed the strongest in this show, in a way stealing the limelight from the young ones.

The laughter flowed throughout, the scenes brilliantly written and the real play was much more professional than the play within. Even if anything did go wrong, the audience never noticed a thing."


Alaina Henderson, The Bath Chronicle


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They Never Noticed A Thing - October 2010


BATH DRAMA IS BOUND TO GET NOTICED


On stage Alex Oliviere-Davies has shed the habit she wore last year to play Isabella, the lead in Bath Drama's Rosebowl-nominated production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.

Now, Alex (in real-life a mother of one) waddles out as Mrs Minnie Rogers, coping with a family of ten and with an eleventh on the way, in They Never Noticed A Thing, Bath Drama's autumn show at the Rondo Theatre in Larkhall.

   They Never Noticed A Thing is an uproarious comedy set in Bath during the 1950s. Haycombe Cemetery and the Scala cinema both get a mention. It is about people's hopes and dreams and the difficulties of fulfilling them.

   It is about amateur theatre and the difficulty of getting enough good actors to fill the parts. And it is about family life and the difficulty people sometimes have in starting a family … which is where the character that Alex plays comes in.

   Minnie Rogers and her husband Joe (played by Derek Le Page) are picked on by their new next-door neighbours the Nixes (played by Rod Moor-Bardell and Charlotte Howard) as consultants in the business of getting into the family way. Throw in the Rogers' stage-struck daughter Angie (Jazz Hazlewood), her chirpy boyfriend Herbert (Marc Delangri), Dorothy Spurgeon, the producer of the local theatre group (Nadine Comba) and Bristol fringe impresario Cedric Steele (Mike Taylor), into the mix, and you have enough comic complications to need a final, hilarious play-within-the play to sort them out.

   "I like the character I'm playing a lot," says Alex, "and while everyone else is rushing round the stage I get to sit in a deckchair and knit quite a bit. The only problem is, this was my year for getting slim. If Steve (Stephen Curtis, author and director of They Never Noticed A Thing and director of Measure for Measure) wants me to act for him again, he'd better cast me as someone willowy."


The Bath Chronicle


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Ring Round the Moon - April 2010


"Ring Round the Moon, performed by Bath Drama, is set in France in 1910. Embarking upon social issues including wealth, poverty, and the obligation of marriage, the farcical plot and its amusing characters make for an entertaining evening.

   Ring Round the Moon involves a rather confusing spider's web of character relationships, but due to steady acting and neat staging from Bath Drama, it was not impossible to understand.

Each character embodied an element of melodrama, requiring the audience to suspend their disbelief somewhat, but this was easily achieved, and the play was enjoyable.

The story revolves around Hugo who, at the start, 'schemes a scheme' to make his infatuated brother fall out of love with his indifferent fiancé.

   Hugo's plans become increasingly elaborate and quite ridiculous as other characters get dragged in. By the end, everyone seems to have swapped partners, denounced their riches or gained new assets. But a play in which characters change makes for an interesting watch.

   Twin brothers Hugo and Frederic, who are identical in looks but who couldn't be less alike in personality, were played by the same actor. Rob Dawson's effortlessly convincing portrayal of the selfish, scheming Hugo, and the nervy and pathetic Frederic were successfully performed and cleverly choreographed. Often Hugo might exit the stage leaving one arm in view, pointing from the wings, while Dawson entered the next scene as a different character. This joke, like others was repeated but did not become tiresome - the friendly and farcical humour of the play made for a soothing evening."


Julie Knight, The Bath Chronicle


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Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - January 2010


"It's behind you - Christmas that is, not the panto season. That's alive and well in Larkhall as this year's show proved, getting underway on Wednesday.

   Most of the usual suspects were there too, portrayed by a huge and enthusiastic cast from Bath Drama. The seven dwarves were, well, actually, a politically correct diverse bunch who weren't too vertically challenged and occasionally thinking they were hobbits when the story needed it.

   In fact the plot involved more diversions than the SouthGate shopping centre, somehow involving a dungeon of doom where Dangling Dan, suspended by chains, managed to sing most of The Sound Of Music, while elsewhere the superbly bad Queen hit the high notes of the more apt Killer Queen. And the pantomime horse must get a mention; his favourite musical was, of course, Gigi.

   Dame Nanny Gote excelled at frocks and ad-libs (as did many others when the need arose) and the scenery builders and movers can never have been so busy before at the Rondo.

Even the audience worked hard on this inclement evening, but be warned, if you're not up for participation then normal rules apply - avoid the front row. Although even that may not save you.

   It's an odd English ritual, pantomime, and every year we approach it with a huge sense of deja vu, but its spell always works, so if you haven't overdosed this festive season then call in at Larkhall. You'll be swept along again."


Philip Horton, The Bath Chronicle


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Measure for Measure - October 2009


"What a fine job Bath Drama made of Measure for Measure under the direction of Stephen Curtis.

   Shakespeare's comedy of morals is no easy play to stage, turning as it does on a series of finely-honed debates on the use and misuse of authority, corruption and deceit.

The plot loosely revolves around the fact that Angelo, the corrupt regent of Vienna, has sentenced Claudio to death for impregnating his betrothed Julietta out of wedlock. When Claudio's sister Isabella, a novice nun, pleads for his life Angelo lusts after her and will only spare Claudio if Isabella agrees to bed him.

   The notion that sex out of wedlock is a crime may seem quaintly old fashioned to our society, but the arguments about justice and mercy are every bit as relevant to a modern audience and Bath Drama tackles this complex play extremely well.

And, lest it all sound a trifle serious, there are some fine comic scenes involving bawds, constables and petty criminals, admirably performed by Mike Auton as Elbow and Paul Olding as the foolish Froth.

   Robert Constantine put in a fine performance as The Duke of Vienna who has gone walkabout disguised as a friar to discover what his subjects think of him, while Adrian Philpott was splendidly stern and unyielding as the corrupt deputy.

   Christopher Constantine, who played the dissolute Lucio, a friend of Claudio, was word perfect and assured throughout, while Alex Oliviere-Davies was superb in her role as the wronged nun pleading for justice.

   The sets were effective and simple and the cast made good use of the Rondo's tiny stage.

There were one or two fluffed lines on occasion but that was probably just down to opening night nerves and were a minor consideration in a production that would have done credit to a professional company."


Jackie Chappell, The Bath Chronicle


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The Taming of the Shrew - July 2009


"Watching open air theatre on a balmy summer evening is usually a delight, so what happens when it rains?

   For Bath Drama and The Rondo Theatre Company the play goes on, and for the hardy audience - a couple of dozen - there was much fun to be had. Sure, a few lines were changed, or added, referring to the weather, but this was a splendid production, concentrating greatly on the humour rather than, what some see as, the misogyny.

   As the play is now 400 years old you probably know the plot - man offered huge dowry by father to marry hot-tempered elder daughter, tames her and gets dowry. But this is Shakespeare and it's never quite that simple.

   As Petruchio, Darian Nelson excelled, braving the weather and a really volatile, pouting Amy Hughes as Kate, also played to perfection. In fact, the whole cast were terrific. Maybe the rain heightens the senses and brings out the best in us.

   Kate's final speech, pointing out that wives should always be subservient to their husbands (the final straw for feminists) was played with more than the usual irony and throughout comedy was king.

   All proceeds were going to Julian House, so unfortunately there wouldn't have been much cash generated on the Thursday of my visit, but top marks for effort in all departments."


Philip Horton, The Bath Chronicle


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From The Bath Chronicle website - October 2009


OPEN AIR PLAYERS SEE SHELTER'S WORK


"Two Bath theatre groups, who put on a joint show in the summer to raise money for Julian House, have visited the shelter to see how it helps the homeless.

   Representatives from Bath Drama and the Rondo Theatre Company were taken on a tour of the Manvers Street shelter to see where their money will go.

   The groups, who put on an outdoor production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in July, raised more than £1,400 for the organisation.

   The charity's fundraising manager Cecil Weir went to see the show, which on one night saw actors forced to perform in the rain. He said he always welcomed supporters to the shelter to witness the cramped conditions endured by clients on a regular basis.

   He said: "We encourage people to come and see the projects. That way they get more of an understanding of the real issues that impact on homelessness. For instance, currently we can only accommodate three women in the building, when very often we know there are more female clients who need our support."

    shelter runs projects across the city to tackle the causes of homelessness and needs more than £300,000 each year to keep going.

   For more information or to donate, visit www.julianhouse.org.uk."


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The Lady in the Van - April 2007

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Eddie Large presenting Derek Le Page with the Best Actor Rosebowl for his performance in The Lady in the Van, 2007... and his citation (below).

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