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

Funny peculiar and ha ha

Striking pose: Richard Woodward (left) as the mysterious Widdecombe with Jonathan Richardson as Robert

Stage Struck

Hall Green Little Theatre


SIMON Gray's play Stage Struck, is a peculiar piece of theatre as you are never quite sure as to what it is intended to be.

In the first instance it's a murder mystery with a sizable helping of twists and turns. In another it's a biting satire, portraying the bitchy world of Theatre actors, their associated tantrums and paranoia's and then in another it's a stark psychological statement about abuse and cruelty.

It's these identity complications that leave you bewildered in a few places as the plot not only changes,  as might be expected, but becomes something altogether different to what it was when it started.

First we have Robert, played brilliantly by Jon Richardson. Robert is the actor husband of a successful stage actress. Practically reduced now to the home help, having suffered a lifetime of failures and minor roles, he treats the world and his relationships with a bitter but amusing sarcasm.

Richardson gave a very measured and effective performance reminiscent of Rigsby from Rising Damp. Even the understated delivery of his precise and cutting wit sounded a little like the late Leonard Rossiter.

Next is Anne his actress wife, played by Hall Green newcomer Claire Lizanne Flaherty who did a good job as the overdramatic stage struck diva.

Anne is performing in a West End play and suffering badly due to the antics of her stage opposite Tom and her opening account of the play and theatre life to Robert in the opening scenes permits for some very funny interchanges. 

Whilst we were warned beforehand about the use of gunshot effects it should have also included a note about Miss Flaherty's scream as at one point it was that intense and sudden that everyone ducked as though a live hand grenade had gone off in the room.

Next we have Herman played by a Ryan Knight, a character who lives in the cottage in the grounds of Anne's and Roberts's home and Herman seems almost irrelevant to the plot until the final scenes. There is an odd monologue on his character's past that seems to come out of nowhere in the play and whilst the young Mr Knight seemed a bit too young to be playing the role he never the less delivered another good performance.

Finally there is the shady Widdecombe who is supposedly an analyst but turns out to be something completely different. He is played by Richard Woodward another recent newcomer to hglt and again Widdecombe has another `out of plot' moment in the play when supposedly to be shot dead  rises up to tell us about his inner thoughts as if time has frozen, before returning to life and back into the play setting.

The play is directed by Amanda J Grant (no relation) and it was good see that the small studio theatre was full to capacity and everyone thoroughly enjoying this clever, laugh out loud, but at times, peculiar play. To 22-06-13.

Jeff Grant 

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