Theatre Review - Mr. Wonderful, Blackburn Drama Club, Thwaites Empire Theatre
PUBLISHED: 19:04 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 19:05 28 November 2013
Blackburn Drama Club celebrate their 70th year with a production of "Mr. Wonderful" written by James Robson and directed by Therese Ball.
Mr. Wonderful is a humorous and touching play centred around Norma Green’s desperation to find love and true happiness with a man, but having to portion her time with her mother, Phoebe Green, who is bedridden and suffering from slight Alzheimer’s. Norma reluctantly agrees with her mother’s suggestion to place an ad in a lonely hearts column and after several failed attempts she finally meets retired teacher, Geoff Lazenby, whom she instantly strikes up an attraction to. Phoebe is not so keen, but her morals are not dedicated to those of her daughter finding happiness, but more for the fear of her self being alone. Although, is the mysterious Geoff really who he makes out to be?
Credit first has to be awarded to the set designer for producing a complex, but effective setting almost on a tri-level finish which allows the story to be told from one of the three main focal points split nicely across the stage separating the bar area from the living room and bedroom of the Greens’ residence.
Robsons’ script plays heavy on the dialogue and it took, to coin a phrase, a wonderful cast to be able to perform the play effectively allowing the varying characters to be transformed onto the stage. Anita Shaw took the lead as Norma in a difficult role that acquired a great range of acting abilities which she pulled off superbly. The audience were allowed to really warm to the character and you couldn’t help but feel her emotions as she performed them on stage with the brief inclusion of a beautiful singing voice gently teasing its way out during one scene. Anne Starks pulled off one of the greatest comedic performances witnessed on a stage as Phoebe Green, Norma’s interfering mother. Her delivery of lines was exceptional and she really played off the character of Norma well.
Her ability to make you laugh even though she wasn’t speaking or even in the scene was great testament to her ability. Clive Stack played the role of Geoff Lazenby and produced a truly natural performance allowing the dark side of the character to shine through occasionally. The three main characters are so different from each other and credit goes to the actors for ensuring that throughout the performance.
Director Therese Ball should be awarded praise for not only the direction of the play, but for her involvement throughout. With a play made up of much dialogue, she ensured the actors were consistent with their performance throughout and to not allow the story to get lost. Breaks between scenes were essential for on set changes, but she ensured these were filled with musical accompaniment and the brilliant distraction of a man riding his bicycle through a screen on the main stage which had the audience questioning and made the eventual entry of the character onto the stage in the second act extremely well received. The character, Lop Wink was played by Mark Holden who literally burst onto the stage in a funny, fast and memorable scene.
Many may agree the true star of the show could possibly have been “Mr. Wonderful” himself, the stuffed teddy always by Phoebe Green’s side. The society have made use of the focal point of the show and cleverly encapsulated him as a prize drawn in a raffle with proceeds going to East Lancashire Hospice. A truly deserved charity and inspirational idea created by the group in keeping with the plays theme.
Blackburn Drama Club have tried to keep the emphasis on the comedy value of the script to ensure an entertaining night was had by all, but they also played the story’s underlying sad story extremely well with moving performances, especially those of Norma and Phoebe Green, to display the diversity of the acting.
The show continues until Saturday 30th November at 7:30pm at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn. To book tickets please visit the website at - www.thwaitesempiretheatre.co.uk
For more information regarding Blackburn Drama Club please visit their website at www.blackburndramaclub.co.uk