“Chalet Lines” as a “shockingly funny journey through 5 decades of birthdays, weddings and hen dos which asks can we ever really cut the apron string that ties us to our parents?”
In the first half hour, as the characters established their roles in the celebration of Nanna’s 70th birthday, at a holiday camp, I almost began to think this was going to be quite a safe, pedestrian play. Then as family tensions began to emerge, jealousies, disappointments, in the party that wasn’t going to be, and the lives of these women, the tone of the play changed. I was drawn into the emotional games some women play. I was particularly affected by the mother, Loretta, played by Sharon Percy. Sharon didn’t have that long to jump into this part but she grabbed it by the neck and bitch-slapped it into the venomous, manipulative woman we all love to hate. And sorry Sharon…you made me hate Lorretta! I should have had more empathy, after all she was a product of her mother’s errors, her grandmother’s direction of her mother’s life & her envy of her sister. But I found it hard to, she was so despicable, and also funny!
Ann Ridley had an interesting role. All the actresses had to play themselves at 3 different ages, but Ann had to do this from her 70th birthday down to the pregnant teen bride. When this was done down in London (different cast) reviews were mixed, the wisdom of having the same actress playing the young and older woman was questioned. I think in this production it worked. Ann did a fabulous job. Donald McBride played her bitter, controlling mother in a darkly comic, but also touching way.
Sammy T Dobson made her stage debut, having in the past worked in Film, TV and Radio, playing Jolene, Loretta’s daughter. Jolene is the likeable, pretty daughter, a little bit free with her affections, but just looking for a husband, because that’s what girls are meant to do, isn’t it? Sammy did a great job on this role.
Viktoria Kay plays Abigail, the tortured, musically frustrated daughter in the “perfect marriage” to a husband who seems to prefer the company of his mother in law. Her only ally seems to be her auntie, Paula, played by Jill Dellow, and favoured by Nanna over Loretta, as she was the “wanted” baby.
The set was an abstract representation of the seaside holiday camp. At times I was worried someone might fall off the edge, adding to the tension! I cried while watching this play. I saw situations there that we all see at sometime in our lives when in the company of women. The past has a habit of catching up, and messing with the future. And women can be so, so….bitchy!
I recommend this show for a night out. Live Theatre, as I keep on saying, is a great drama venue. The staff were friendly and helpful in the reception, in the bar and helping people to their seats. “Chalet Lines” is on at the Live Theatre until 6th October. Tickets are available here: http://www.live.org.uk/whats-book/chalet-lines . Souvenir copies of the play text are available from the “Chalet Reception” and the “Redcoats Bar” including a free specially made stick of rock!