Family secrets bite into the Big Apple

Miriam on 34th Street

Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

****

DAN Hagley is gaining a well deserved reputation for his well observed one act plays and this latest offering has raised the bar once again.

Miracle on 34th Street, the original 1947 version with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn not the tedious unoriginal remakes, is probably the best Christmas film ever.

Miriam is not quite as Christmassy, but it is set in New York on 34th Street in the festive period and is the OJS's contribution to the holiday season.

Miriam (Alison Belbin) arrives in New York after her first flight and first time out of England to spend Christmas with her son Michael (Dan Hagley) and his wife Kathy (Rina Mahoney) and their new baby Amy. 

Amy, incidentally, is created by a tablecloth.

AGONY AUNT

Bother Michael and his mother have difficult secrets they want to reveal to each other and as Miriam lets slip that she wrote to agony aunt Deirdre in the Sun about Michael being a tad on the gay side . . . well a lot that way really, there might be a bit of explaining to do about how he ending up married with a daughter living in New York.

Alison manages to get away with being just Miriam, the widowed Brummie mewsagent mum in New York, but Dan has to double up as a taxi driver, floor indicator on the way to the 16th floor apartment and the phantom of the opera.

Rina is another holding down multiple jobs as airport security, off-hand New York waitress and Christine DaaƩ in the Broadway production of Phantom. Funny you would have thought the Broadway production would have had a bigger stage and more spectacular sets, as Miriam might have said.

Miriam enjoyed her favourite musical though and was off to see Phantom again on her second day in the Big Apple.

The humour is gentle and relies on what people say and do rather than one liners and witty retorts as we watch two disturbing revelations, for those involved, slowly being accepted as we head to a happy conclusion.

The play is directed by Jenny Stephens and produced by Sharon Foster and this particular Christmas miraclette runs at the OJS until 18-12-10

Roger Clarke

Meanwhile just down 34th street  . . .

****

CLEVER writer Dan Hagley has again demonstrated his skill at penning amusing short plays in this lively tale of Birmingham shopkeeper Miriam's first ever trip abroad to visit her son, now living in New York.

What should be a joyful reunion turns into shock and awe because both are concealing secrets that will create conflict in the Big Apple and boy, can this Brummie mummy bite.

Birmingham actress Alison Belbin is a delight as Miriam who reveals that she had, in the past, written to a newspaper agony aunt about her boy's gay tendency, so some questions obviously need answering when she meets his 'partner', Kathy in their 16th floor apartment on 34th Street....and baby Amy!

A terrific performance, too, from Rina Mahoney, playing the baby's mum, Kathy, but also appearing as Christine in a sketch from Phantom of the Opera, a restaurant customer, airport security officer and a waitress.

 Hagley the writer is a skilled actor, too, playing Michael whose transfer from Birmingham to New York had a most unexpected reason, and he even turns his hand to the extra roles of harrassed cab driver and the Phantom   

Full marks are also due to the white table cloth which, swiftly folded, doubles for baby Amy.

Directed by Jenny Stephens and produced by Sharon Foster, Miriam on 34th Street is a miracle of multy task acting. It runs to 18.12.10

Paul Marston

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