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


A stairway to laughter


All aboard: Bob Graham as Clown 2, Richard Taylor as Richard Hannay, Louise Fulwell as Annabella/Margaret/Pamela and Chris Clarke as Clown 1 find a touch of relaim for publicity photograves on th Severn Valley Railway

The 39 Steps

The Nonentities

Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


WHAT would John Buchan or even Alfred Hitchcock have thought of this melodramatic adaptation of the spy thriller that Buchan wrote and Hitchcock filmed?

Patrick Barlow has taken the outline of Buchan's plot and transformed into a farcical comedy in the style of productions by the Reduced Shakespeare Company with brilliant results!

A cast of four deliver a rapid and comic sequence of scenes which are best enjoyed if you have read or seen the original story. Barlow freely changes elements of plot and character to provide a series of romantic adventures for Richard Hannay, who in the original was a confirmed bachelor with no hint of such liaisons.

The basic backdrop is adapted to provide a whole range of different scenes with a few basic props and elements of stage furniture or set, usually on wheels to enable speed of set and strike! The moving lamppost, the hotel foyer, the double bedroom at the inn, the moors, the train inside and rooftop, all come and go in rapid succession along with many more!

The first of the cast members plays the hero, Richard Hannay. The female actress provides the various ladies with whom Hannay finds himself entangled. The other two players cover all the many other remaining characters, heroes, villains, men, women, policemen, all - switching hats, accents and mannerisms in double quick time with hilarious effects.

The Nonentities provided a lively and very entertaining evening with this production. There are a lot of technical challenges which were achieved with precision and skill! The wheels of a light aircraft crossing the scene scanning the moors for the fugitive Hannay; the street lamp, the timing of sound cues, swivelling of picture frames, the political lectern transformed into a car steering column - the technical demands were met excellently.

The cast are required to deliver a high-octane performance with virtually no moments of respite offstage! Richard Taylor as Hannay has great comic timing, was very versatile and maintained an energetic tempo. Louise Fulwell as the various female liaisons provided a good foil with her varied costumes and accents helping to provide delightful variations in character.

Chris Clarke and Bob Graham were the two 'clowns' who mopped up the roles of the policemen chasing Hannay, the nasty foreign villains in their sinister macs and hats, the Scottish farmer, the couple running the guest house, the camp Chief Inspector of Police, the daily who discovers the corpse and the stage entertainers at the London Palladium! They performed with tremendous vigour, flexibility and lively eccentricity, and clothes rippling comically in the wind, to keep the evening moving apace.

This was a very enjoyable evening, with few moments where the action slowed. This was a thoroughly entertaining comic production enjoyed by a full house and maintaining the best traditions of local theatre. The Nonentities are in for a great week! To 11-10-14

Timothy Crow


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