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

An endorsment in harmony

cast of chorus of disapproval

A cast of Nonentities playing the cast of Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society.who are producing The Beggar's Opera.

Chorus of Disapproval

The Nonentities,

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


DRAMATISTS love to take the mickey out of amateur dramatic societies with plays within plays! Amateur societies enjoy taking the mick out of themselves!  

Alan Ayckbourn’s Chorus of Disapproval provides ample opportunity to do both at The Rose Theatre this week.

We are presented with an amateur light-operatic society rehearsing for John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera. The company is joined by Guy Jones, a young widower from Leeds who seems bemused, innocent and devoid of confidence; he is welcomed by Dafyyd, the domineering Welshman who is directing the show and who initially casts him in some insignificant role with a single line in Act Two.

He is however immediately the focus of attention for the women in the company who are excited by a new and single man among them; the sex-starved wife of the director and the liberal and permissive Fay become immediate rivals for his favours, but the other ladies don’t wish to be ignored by him either.

As other male performers drop out or fail, Guy is promoted to play ever larger roles in the production until eventually he is playing Macheath, the lead. Allowing himself to be manipulated by the more sophisticated women players, he ends up offending everyone including the director: he is resented as a ‘right bastard’ by just about everybody.

The scenes are punctuated by songs from the BDafyd ap Llewellyneggar’s Opera which end up having a double meaning: they have significance in the interactions of the cast as well as the story of the opera.

The exaggerated characterisations bring lots of humour: Dafyyd is a huge character with his Welsh passions and rugby imagery; Jarvis Huntley-Pike whose family own land that various parties wish to acquire and who loves the Vanishing Sounds of Britain, Bridget, the spikey Stage Manager and daughter of the local pub landlord, the sexually voracious Fay Hubbard, all contribute to a colourful and entertaining cast of hilarious characters.

Chris Clarke as Dafyyd ap Llewellyn the director of PALOS, boyo

Stephen Downing’s production was wonderfully received by a supportive and loyal audience and was performed with great energy and a considerable amount of skill by a strong cast. The casting was governed less by age appropriateness than skill-sets: this resulted in strong performances by all, especially the lead characters.

At times the strong accents or the demands of the singing meant we could not hear every word but this was infrequently an issue.

Chris Clarke’s Welsh accent was thoroughly convincing and humorous as Dafyyd. His energy, skill and variety as a performer help to maintain pace and humour.  Joe Harper, as Guy, is very convincing in his portrayal of the diffident newcomer with the initially shaky voice, who rather naively allows himself to be led into a web of complex social complications by the subtle wiles of the ladies.

The conniving and sexually suggestive women are well played by Tori Wakeman and  Karen Whittingham, amongst others. Bob Graham’s eccentric Jarvis and the other young men perform with considerable skill.

The singing is carried off well too: Tori Wakeman’s voice is exceptional but the rest of the cast hold their own and Joe Harper manages the development of his singing from off-key to strong delivery in the latter part of the play very well.

The games with the lighting and the technical effects are similarly well-managed, the scene changes were effected with slick efficiency and will doubtless get even slicker as the week progresses.  The design for the set was simple and effective.

Ayckbourn’s depiction of a somewhat decadent, clumsy but very human culture epitomised by the Am-Dram scene is sympathetic, clever and humorous. The Nonentities do a very successful job of bringing the play to life; there was a full audience who thoroughly enjoyed the performance; the company look set for a very enjoyable and successful week. To 06-12-14

Tim Crow


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