REVIEW of BARRINGTON PLAYERS: 'Nottingham' & 'A Small Affair', March 21

ROBIN'S Merry Men.

ROBIN'S Merry Men.

First published in What's On

BARRINGTON Players clearly are in a very healthy state! The two one act plays I saw were both acted with supreme confidence by a large cast to a very enthusiastic audience.

'Nottingham' was a spoof of the Robin Hood legend, performed by the 'junior' cast.

The piece was very funny, turning the story on its head -- the sheriff being a kind of a reluctant hero played winningly by Keziah Wetherall as a panto principle boy; Robin Hood was well played as a conceited fop by Grace Dean.

The pace was very fast moving, and the crowd scenes in particular well directed, the cast reacting well together when on stage.

Space does not allow me to mention each individual of the cast, but I did enjoy the mimed merrie minstrels, expressively playing lutes in ill fitting tights!

Prince John (and later Richard) was played as a Tory toff (George Osborne?) by Angus Crosbie, engaging well with the audience.

Katie Lenihan's Maid Marion was delightfully spoilt, and Lucy the handmaiden was really convincingly played by Harriet Uren with great attention to detail.

There were many good moments -- really very good ensemble playing, especially the younger girls reacting to Robin's celebrity status; Robin's arrogant yet inept proposal, and the Thatcher like Lady Devonshire.

The piece was very smoothly directed, cast members changed the set in role, always a good device. A very confident and engaging piece.

A Small Affair was a play about rehearsing a play – my first impression was how the small stage was imaginatively used in the set design.

The piece concerns a group in a rehearsal room preparing a gritty prison drama; however the room is double booked with a game show rehearsal. Madness ensues.

Judy (a very brisk and efficient Felicity Murray) and Guy ( played in a highly camp yet hesitant manner by Richard Hart) are rehearsing with a very mixed cast.

Again, there was some superb ensemble playing and splendidly drawn characters.

The Welsh biscuit obsessed Ellen (Allison Kelly) the spiky Janet (Gillian Clifton) and the deliciously self obsessed Mona, who was played by Lucy Blows, encapsulating the self obsessed diva very effectively; a powerful but dangerous stage presence!

Terry, an alcoholic theatrical has-been was acted (worryingly convincingly!) by David Clifton, and we had an import from Ealing comedy with the workman Harry as a very lively cockney, realised by Colin Strickland.

The cameos of the three contestants for the game show 'Make a Fool of Yourself' were funny and well observed.

The play was basically a farce -- starting of as almost normal, and very quickly getting out of hand.

The gathering momentum and comic timing can be quite difficult to achieve in this genre; however the cast and direction clearly knew what the were about.

I was a bit uncomfortable with prompting from the front row of the audience -- this may have been unavoidable, but it tended to exaggerate errors rather indiscreetly.

'A Small Affair' was one of a number of plays about rehearsing, and the danger with this style is that it can easily lapse into cliché.

This group avoided that however, and made the characters their own.

A very lively and enthusiastic theatre group, and a highly enjoyable evening! I've never come across the term 'chaperone organiser' in a programme before, though.

DAVE WALSHAM

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