NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) review
Director: Emma Jane Sweeney
Musical Director: Ian Southgate
Performed at Brentwood Theatre on Friday 4 November 2011 at 8.00pm
I was looking forward to this production as I have not seen the show before but I am aware of its pedigree. I was not disappointed; every member of the cast performed at the top of their game and the result was an outstanding performance.
It would be unfair to single out any particular member of the cast as they were all, without exception, excellent. Each couple brought a different ‘slant’ to the production making their own stories totally believable and the singing was superb from everyone. According to the programme, there was an offstage choir but this was not obvious and their singing blended well with the principals onstage.
There were many high spots and Director Emma-Jane Sweeney made the most of the script and the small, intimate space that she had to work with. In truth the play is ideally suited to this theatre and it would, probably, not have worked so well on a traditional stage.
Setting the show ‘in the round’ meant that the cast had to work really hard to make sure everyone in the audience was able to see the action. Even though there were a couple of occasions when my view was masked by the cast, I did not feel this affected my enjoyment of the play.
There was no scenery but I didn’t feel that this was a disadvantage and it does show what can be done with a few simple props and a talented cast. Technically the show worked very well; there was only one occasion when the microphones did not seem to be turned up quickly enough. The lighting was excellent and the costumes appropriate.
Overall, despite the fact that I am not a great Sondheim fan, I loved the production.
NODA Reviewer: Tessa Davies