Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Gamma rays shine on young cast

Four Hall Green  Youth Theatre members share the roles of the two daughters. On the left are Hannah Scothern (left) and Anna Garrett while on the right are Laura Coxson (left) and Roisin Keating.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Hall Green Little Theatre


I AM always uneasy when I approach a play with an outlandish, ridiculously long title. I can't help wondering whether the author has so little faith in his work that he is relying on curiosity to fill the theatre.

This one received a bundle of awards in 1971 but is really only a study of a dysfunctional family headed by an unpleasant mother who is an embarrassment to one of her two daughters. This is the daughter who appears to drift in and out of sanity and gives a detailed account of boiling cats before skinning them. The other, eliciting considerable sympathy in a gentle, restrained performance by Anna Garrett, is the incipient scientist whose marigolds have been exposed to cobalt 60.

I am not sure whether the effect of the gamma rays was the one intended, but on the first night the marigolds had all come up as pinks. Or were they carnations?


Paul Zindel's play is directed by Patrick Ryan, who has also designed the lighting and the sound for this studio production. It repeatedly inflicts long, monologue-like speeches on the mother – Christine Bland who, on the first night was occasionally overwhelmed by their demands despite coping admirably for the rest of the time and particularly displaying her requisite lack of finer feelings by referring to the unfortunate Nanny (Jennifer Llanes) as “that corpse.”

But this is a company that gels well. Anna Garrett (Mathilda) is kindly and supportive towards her mother; Hannah Scothern is the flamboyant, unpredictable Ruth, prone to fits, exaggeration and lying. Both girls are confident in their substantial contributions and are members of the Hall Green Youth Theatre. They are sharing their roles during the week with Roisin Keating and Laura Coxson. To 6.3.10. 

John Slim


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