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Dumb Show

20 September 13 words: John Anthony
"At one point Barry claimed he had not noticed as Liz crossed and uncrossed her legs! I don’t think any of the men in the audience failed to notice!"
The Dumb Show

The Dumb Show
 

This was an evening of many firsts, my first visit to Long Eaton and the Duchess Theatre and my first play by Joe Penhall and his ‘acclaimed’ recent play Dumb Show. The original Duchess Theatre was tragically destroyed by fire in November 2003 and the new building has had to arise phoenix-like from the ashes and was officially opened in September 2010. It is no surprise that it took the local community only seven years to get back up and running, as Long Eaton clearly has enormous enthusiasm for the performing arts. This is evidenced by the impressive number of groups that are now proud to call the Duchess Theatre their home.

This production was also the first for the new, and yet another, theatre company Magpie Drama to base themselves at the ‘Duchess’. Magpie Drama’s raisin d’être, as I understand it, is to bringer newer and less well-known plays to the stage and avoid the well trodden paths left by other drama groups. This is a bold ambition that is to be applauded even though the company is bound to encounter the odd previously undiscovered pitfall. Was Dumb Show one of them?

My principal problem was the play itself and not Magpie Drama’s production of it. Joe Penhall is an award winning playwright who has had his work performed by The Royal Court Theatre and his writing has been complimented by both the Independent and Financial Times. Moreover this play in particular has been praised by the Times Literary Supplement, no less! Notwithstanding, my view is that the script had more flaws than an adolescent complexion and in holding to that view my David seems to be set against a phalanx of goliaths. So please, do go and see for yourself and make up your own minds.

The production itself got off to the best possible start for, as the curtain went up, the set was revealed, a hotel room overlooking a bridge over the Thames. The initial lighting state which featured the view from the hotel window was simply inspired. Full marks go to the set and lighting departments for that magic moment.

The play is a three hander and so all cast members had very significant parts to play. Daniel Bates (Greg aka John) was assured and his decision to adopt an Australian accent worked exceptionally well. Matt Fry (Barry) played the central protagonist, a dysfunctional comedian, as a bluff Yorkshireman and this contrasted nicely with Daniel’s brash Australian. Clare Toska (Liz aka Jane) provided the sex appeal. At one point Barry claimed he had not noticed as Liz crossed and uncrossed her legs! Well I don’t think any of the men in the audience failed to notice!

The Duchess Theatre is a vibrant venue, so do go and see Dumb Show and be there at the start of the Magpie Drama journey.

Magpie Drama presents Dumb Show by Joe Penhall at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton from 19th to 21st  September 2013.
 

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