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Taking the classic story of The Wizard of Oz and adding their unique twist to the tale. Blue Apple have found Dorothy (Katy Appleford) residing in a local Winchester nursing home. Nobody can explain where she came from or where she goes. However, she certainly has a fascinating tale to tell.
The manager of the home (Paul Smith) unpleasantly refers to Dorothy as “Dotty Dorothy or Mad Dot” to the children when they first visit the nursing home with their school. Yet, after meeting Dorothy for the first time Mary ( Anna Brisbane) is fascinated by her and returns to hear more. As time passes they become good friends.
Katy Appleford’s performance as Dorothy combined humour and warmth in her description of the faraway adventures in Oz. With an impressive American “twang” and wielding her walking stick, she’s certainly in charge of her extraordinary life story. I never once thought she was “dotty” just maybe slightly eccentric.
Mary (Anna Brisbane) narrates much of the performance in a kind and thoughtful manner. As she reminisced about her childhood days visiting Dorothy. Listening intently to her tales and it was clear that she was never really sure where the line between reality and fantasy was drawn.
The stage is split into two sections. On the right-hand side, we see the nursing home room where Dorothy resides and the left-hand side becomes the adventures in Oz as the cast takes their famous trip down the yellow brick lane with the younger Dorothy (Isla Hall) Tin Man (James Benfield) Lion (Tom Hatchett) and Scarecrow (Sam Dace).
From the Munchkins, The Witches to the all-powerful man himself, Oz. Director, Richard Conlon’s “fresh look at the familiar” story is a huge success. He has an amazing rapport with his cast and knows how to get the best out of each cast member. Blue Apple are renowned locally for pushing boundaries on the stage and working outside the “box”, well this production certainly delivers that on several levels.
It’s always an absolute pleasure watching the stage full of Blue Apple performers doing what they do best. With so much enjoyment and excitement flowing off the stage, It’s safe to say that The Wizard of Oz has been another success in its extensive history of productions. Each time I watch a Blue Apple performance their stage presence becomes stronger and each member grows a little bit more in confidence. I am looking forward to seeing what they create next.
Suffering, poverty, grief and alcoholism predominantly run through the entire performance of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. Christina Bianco in the role of LV certainly has a hard act to follow from the 1999 iconic film performance by Jane Horrocks. However, Bianco doesn’t fail to deliver with an incredible and moving range of voices.
LV’s overbearing and obnoxious drunken Mother Mari (Shobna Gulati) dominated much of the first half of the performance. Which became frustrating and repetitive, sometimes “less is more” and I feel reducing her lines wouldn’t have taken away from the impact of her role. Although in fairness Gulati’s performance as a “drunk” is excellent and certainly not an easy role to perfection.
Mari’s long-suffering “put upon” friend Sadie (Fiona Mulvaney) adds some light and comedic relief to the stage. Her dialogue is brief yet her facial expressions and mannerisms speak a thousand words. Mulvaney is one to properly watch as it would be easy to miss some of her subtle yet poignant body language. Word of warning though watch out for the vomit!
We have the displeasure of meeting Mari’s latest potential new boyfriend “wideboy” wanna be big-time agent Ray Say (Ian Kelsey). Every preconceived idea about how these types operate comes true as Kelsey effortlessly brings “sleazy” Ray to life. The only person he truly fails to fool is LV.
From LV keeping her room tidy and preening her late Father’s record collection. To the slovenly given up attitude by Mari. Grief flows throughout the house without either knowing the best way to work through their emotions. It’s safe to say Mother and daughter are never going to properly understand each other.
Not all knights in shining armour appear on a horse with a lance. Some have scaffold ladders! Telephone engineer Billy (Akshay Gulati) falls for LV after installing a phone in the house. His strong and patient presence throughout the performance is a welcome relief to all the chaos that unnecessarily takes place around LV.
Every attention to detail has gone into creating an incredible set by Sara Perks. The fragmented outline of the house has been juxtaposed against the relationships battling and shattered against each other inside. It creates an overall insight into Mari and LV’s every day “unideal” lifestyle. Neither of whom is happy, fixed or fulfilled
Overall it’s been extremely well cast, staged and performed. For further information please use the links below.
Sarah Kempton in the role of Doris and Kieran Buckeridge as George embark on two extremely challenging roles in Same Time, Next Year. We watch time passing along with changing attitudes to money, life, politics and religion spanning twenty-five years, the actors fulfilling these years in under two hours, with strong conviction, clarity, humour and passion.
However, the one thing that remains static throughout their lives is passion and a strong physical connection between them. As many women tend to do throughout the years Doris changes her hairstyle quite dramatically upon each meeting reflecting the era that the couple is living in.
A guest cottage in Northern California plays host for the entire performance of Same Time, Next Year. Starting in 1951 spanning over six acts ending in 1975. The couple first embarks on a one night stand after a chance meeting in a restaurant their affair continues and spans over twenty-four years.
The rich, funny and heart-rendering script by Bernard Slade combined with Kempton and Buckeridge’s credible romantic chemistry on stage. Somehow allowed the audience to feel empathy towards the couple even though is having an affair. Adultery has been deemed a sin yet without physically seeing their lives beyond Northern California it was easier to believe that their spouses didn’t seem to matter as much as they should have.
Set designer Bek Palmer creates a passionate bedroom scene from the outset. Amid the dishevelled sheets, passionately discarded clothes and flung shoes. The aftermath of the night before is all the audience need to see to know what has previously taken place between the couple. Palmer’s attention to detail speaks a thousand words in this initial bedroom scene and throughout the play.
Director Michael Cabot brings the comedic, heart-rendering and life-changing affair to life. With Doris’s changing fashion and maturity through returning to education. Along with several well placed life-changing events where the character’s delivery caught me by surprise and took my breath away. Alongside George becoming disillusioned with money and wealth.
Sadly the auditorium was fairly quiet this evening. Under no circumstances was this a reflection of the quality in the production and the cast didn’t falter in their performances. Same Time, Next Year certainly deserves to play to a full house. It is truly outstanding all around and I would highly recommend going to see it at Theatre Royal Winchester or check out the link below to see if they are performing locally near you.