Aladdin and The Magic Ring.
This magical pantomime was performed on 26th, 27th and 28th January 2018 and on the following week 1st and 2nd February to almost full houses on every occasion.
'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' at Theatr Fach
The repertory team at Theatr Fach has built up a strong tradition in 'improbable farce' (the sub-heading for Coward's Blithe Spirit, a recent production), and this year's choice of Bank Holiday entertainment added another winner to the list - 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime', developed in 1952 by Constance Cox from an Oscar Wilde short story. The 'hook' is Wilde's - told by a 'cheiromantist' (palm-reader) that he is destined to commit a murder, Lord Arthur feels obliged to carry out the deed before marriage to his beloved Sybil can take place. Most of the action is made up of his vain attempts at enacting this. Credit for much of the evening's flair is down to Cox herself, who wrote her first farce aged 18 before making her mark in later life (she died in 1998) as a pioneer of TV adaptations of the classics (including acclaimed episodes of the 1967 Forsyte Saga). The crafting of plot and character is impressive, with tension well sustained and a generous laughter quotient. Some original strokes are worthy of Wilde himself. When for example Lord Arthur is obliged to tell his fiancée of the murderous plan she cries "how noble of you", only to complain, on learning that the deed is not yet done - "Oh Arthur, you've had nearly a week".
Uttered by Jacki Thompson as Sybil the line achieved its full effect, reflecting the firm grasp throughout by director Ruth Nicholls (who also played Lord Arthur's aunt Lady Windermere) of that key to comic success, the seriousness with which characters take themselves. Nowhere was this more important than in the 'Wooster-Jeeves' dynamic between Lord Arthur and his somewhat sharper butler Baines, a running 'duet' by Richard Withers and Ifor Davies that recalled their previous triumph as 'Sir' and Norman in Harwood's The Dresser. (In another Wildean touch Baines divulges that his first name is Harold because "my mother happened to be staying at Hastings". Lord Arthur fails to see any connection. Baines: "It is immaterial, my lord.") At a more farcical extreme Julian Jones played the anarchist and explosives (in)expert Herr Winkelkopf with such intensity that he threatened to steal each scene he was in as well as destroy the set. (A fine creation by Ian Macer-Wright, who also handled light & sound with aplomb.) A suitable note of suave menace was added by the imposing Lindsay Hodges as cheiromantist Mr Podgers. Sue Barnes as Nellie the maid 'knew her place'; aristocratic cameos completed the cast, all of them formidable (and impressively costumed) - Sybil's mother Lady Julia (Christine Jones), and Lord Arthur's aunt Windermere and uncle the Dean of Paddington (Vaughan Davies), not forgetting his high-living great-aunt Lady Clementina (Lesley Holland). who relished to the full telling her great-nephew - "I'm glad you're such a good boy, Arthur, but, oh, my dear, what you're missing".
That thought could be echoed for all those who missed this show. Catch the next one!