For the last few years I have attended at least one showing of every main production put on by the Theatre and Performing Arts department of Glyndŵr University. Glyndŵr University is my old stomping ground, it provided me with the three best years of my life and a number of good friends of mine are involved in the productions. From my experience the productions have always been to a high standard but maybe in part due to my love of the source material, I personally feel that this particular show was the best I’ve seen so far.
I attended the Wednesday afternoon showing and what struck me immediately as Mrs Johnstone, played on this occasion by Rachel Bloomer, took to the stage was the effort that had gone into the perfection of the Liverpool or ‘Scouse’ accent. Bloomer was able to deliver her lines with a natural and effortless delivery that set the tone of the show while not being overwhelmingly powerful to the point of sounding false. This was a standard that she kept for the entire production. The scene near the end of the first act involving her firing at the hands of Mrs Lyons, played very competently by Emily Sayers was particularly powerful and both actresses did well to convey the emotion and personality traits of both characters. The difference in social standing between the two was emphasised superbly in all of the scenes they were in together.
The roles of the brothers; Mickey and Eddie were played by Kyle Quirk and Rhys Davies respectively. If either of these characters fell flat then the rest of the show would no doubt follow suite, this was luckily not the case. Both Quirk and Davies delivered their lines with a confidence and natural charisma that frankly stage actors with twice their experience could learn a thing or two from. Davies’ ability to portray Eddie as a sheltered and unassuming but ultimately kind hearted soul coupled with Quirks rough and rugged but likeable and relatable version of Mickey meant that the two actors complemented each other superbly. The scene in which Eddie returns home from university to be with his ‘Blood Brother’ only to be shot down and rejected by him, filled eyes all over the venue and Mickey’s angry tirade invoked a sense of the desperation of the time period and even a sense of the current financial and social hemisphere of modern day Britain.
I feel I cannot finish this review without mentioning the portrayal of Sammy by second year student Dan James. Although he didn’t have as much stage time as some of the other characters I feel James’ performance was worthy of being called ‘show stealing’. The accent and delivery was spot on, his charisma and presence was consistent and the actor’s ability to switch his characters demeanour from a mischievous but innocent child to a border-line psychotic victim of a broken home making a believable case for both was nothing short of brilliant. The hold-up scene towards the end of the second half of the show was a particular highlight.
All in all the play was a joy to watch. The sets were minimalistic and low budget but the actors themselves were what created the atmosphere and feel for the time period that the show was set and for this the cast, producers and stage management team all deserve praise.
I am not simply parading my buddies so to speak when I honestly say that this was the best Glyndŵr produced theatre show that I have seen. I have no doubt that many of the actors it featured will one day be performing on far bigger stages in far more exotic locations. Unfortunately the shows final date has been and gone but I would whole heartedly recommend the universities next production, whatever it may be. This show was a joy to watch and one of the better £3.50’s that I’ve spent all year.
Anybody else that happened to view this show please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.