Monday, 2 February 2015

Full of Joys: Review

The Music Hall was a popular form of entertainment from the mid 19th Century all the way up to the 1960s, providing for the masses a mixture of popular songs of the time, comedy and variety acts, acting almost like an untelevised version of Britain's Got Talent just without the large red crosses, tap dancing dogs and open-shirted judges.

Much like the ITV hit, however, audience participation was encouraged, most passionately by the "magnificently moustached chairman" Michael Branwell, who also directed the production, alongside Henrietta Branwell, and Jenny Southwell. His articulate and linguistically adventurous interludes guided the structure of the performance, along with some rather terrible jokes which would not have been out of place in a normal conversation with Michael!

The evening started with a selection of songs performed by some true veterans of the Music Hall as Jon McNamara who got some laughs from the audience as he 'twittered' about the stage, alongside Ruth Lewis who got a good chorus from the audience in joining in with 'Joshua'. Husband and Wife duo, Geoff and Jacqueline Leeds put in a good show, which Geoff accompanied with his accordion.

The first of two intervals was followed by a melodrama written by Jenny Southwell which proved funnier than I thought it would be, I shall be honest. Special mention must go to both Joan Lanario and Mike Rees, who were particularly funny in their roles, building on recent successes in Woyzeck. Kevin Smith, in his Moot House debut, was also noteworthy for his performance and I look forward to seeing more from him.

The final act was a number of musical numbers and dances along with Gary Shaw, whose jokes, whilst standing outside of the more traditional atmosphere of the performance, were topical and helped keep things ticking over nicely.

Whilst some of the songs and dances weren't the sharpest choreography, or best knowledge of the lyrics, it was a valiant effort from the majority of the cast, with the aforementioned standing out. Special mention must go to two of the audience's favourites of the evening in Claire Quley and Dan Powell who acted as waiters for the entire two and a half hours but, bless them, did look rushed off their feet by the end of it!

Whilst a Music Hall was not my particular 'thing', and a tighter focus on vocals and choreography could have been present, the overall audience appeared to have had a good time, as had the cast who took part. The Moot House Players' season is so varied with German classic Woyzeck previously, followed by the such a spectacle of variety. I look forward to their next production; Kerry Rowland's Metamorphosis.