The amateur theatre community here in the North-East is thriving and, contrary to popular perception, the standard is actually very good. I recently saw a couple of productions of well known shows by very popular and prolific writers.
MISERY by Stephen King, adapted by Simon Moore.
Washington Theatre Group’s production of Stephen King’s novel, subsequently made into the film starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, was performed at the Washington Arts Centre last month with real skill by John Seymour and Catriona Uren. They managed to negotiate the tightrope of recalling the performances from the film by Caan and Bates, whilst at the same time putting their own interpretation onto two fascinating characters.
The set design was simple and worked very well. Inevitably for a play based on a novel, there were a lot of scenes, which sometimes meant that blackouts lasted a bit too long and caused the pace to dip. But the two actors succeeded in keeping focus and working very well together; together with director Sarah Tetchner they managed to produce a taught and thrilling adaptation.
PLAY IT AGAIN SAM by Woody Allen.
The Pier Pavillion in South Sheilds is home to the Westovians Theatre Company, and this was their most recent production. This was a typical early Woody Allen script: awkward New York Jewish writer, full of angst and neuroses, agonises over his recent failed marriage and the prospect of dating again.
Peter Dawson in the lead role of Allan Felix did an excellent impression of Woody Allen; his voice and mannerisms were really spot on. A great supporting cast helped to make the situation natural and believable in a play that was written in the 60s and could quite easily have appeared dated and out of touch. Corinne Kilvington and David Foster particularly, as the married friends of Allan, were very convincing as a bickering couple who try to fix their friend up with a string of new women. Amy Jeffels impressed in a number of different roles; all potential new girlfriends for Allan, each one played very convincingly.
The next production by the Westovians in this beautiful little theatre is the stage version of ‘Brassed Off!’, which plays from Monday 16 July. If you can make it, I reckon it’s well worth a visit.