I returned from the theatre having witnessed the recent fruits of Backstage Theatre Group’s labour. BTG have staged three outlandishly quirky short plays entitled “The Lithium Waltz,” “Hero” and “What’s For Pudding?” I imagine the staging of three separate productions posed no simple chore, rather, posed a difficult one. However, Backstage Theatre Group have presented us with a selection of highly entertaining pieces in their usual fine manner and indeed, have done so with a flourish.
“The Lithium Waltz”, directed by Oliver Kenny, is an eccentric little snippet which follows Billy (played competently by Jamie McClean) and his lapse into insanity after he arrives at a mental institution. He is accompanied by an array of bizarre individuals who try their best to wane him down a path of chaos, and they succeed completely, I might add.
I found the play hilarious, wild and entertaining, but at some points throughout, I felt it lacked a little believability with regards to some actors’ performances. However, this didn’t take away from the highly remarkable performance delivered by the ensemble on a whole.
In “Hero,” directed by Jim Davey, we are transported to a British clearing casualty station in 1916 where we learn that Private Underwood (Played convincingly by James Duignan) is a matter of hours away from death due to a recent injury acquired on the Western Front. It examines the difficulties encountered by Dr. Selkirk, Nurse Penfold and Sister Hart when they receive papers regarding the desertion of Private Underwood. They are faced with an ultimatum; should he be detained or should he be let die a Hero?
I must divulge, I found the play itself very bland and uninspiring due to the way it had such a predictable and palpable plot. It ended on such a sour note too, which did it no favours.
Nonetheless, I found the production, direction and acting in this play was of a high standard. The set too, was tastefully laid out in a time-honoured manner and sounds effects (most notably that of the birds chirping at the start) were used to a tee for maximum effect throughout. A notable performance was given by Tony Wadd as Dr. Selkirk.
The audience were granted some welcome comedy relief in the final play entitled, “What’s For Pudding?” directed by Pat-Joe McLoughlin; a very simple and safe piece high in entertainment value. This one provided us with a modern look at a 21st century marriage and the sometimes lacklustre and humdrum life that goes with it.
I liked this one; it was peculiar, sometimes borderline farcical I thought. The cast did well in delivering such a comical act. At some points I found it outrageously hilarious. The end scene in particular I felt was very strong; comical sharpness was very evident here.
Overall, three moderately good plays done to a soaring standard by Backstage Theatre Group. There was certainly no shortage of entertainment value on the night I attended.
A very interesting and entertaining evening, from this critic’s perspective.
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