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

Giving a lease of life to rentals

Cast members of rent

La Vie Boheme: Cast members of Rent


The Arcadians

The Crescent Theatre


IT’S something of an irony that in this age of legal same sex marriage and even a cross-dressing bearded lady winning Eurovision 2014, that the term Bohemian, used once to once represent  "a socialy unconventional person or artist’’, has now been rendered to the conventional under the hammer of social acceptance and political correctness.

Rent, the musical is therefore almost historical, looking back now to the late 90s in New York City where a group of artistic squatters scratch out their existence in aStrugling songwriter Roger (Simon Burgess) and Mimi  Marquez (Mairead Mallon) disused tenement block surrounded by crime, drugs, protest and HIV.

The musical by Jonathan Larson began its life as a small off-Broadway workshop. Based on  Puccini's opera La bohème, this tale of poverty and artistic struggle encountered further irony as its eventual Broadway run went on to become one of the longest running and most successful, grossing 280 million dollars during its 12 year run, closing in 2008.

Since then it has enjoyed a popular revival and the diverse range of characters makes it ideal for a good many amateur companies to have taken on.

Strugling songwriter Roger (Simon Burgess) and Mimi  Marquez (Mairead Mallon)

The Arcadians is one of them and they have embraced the controversy and dark overtones of the musical with a great energy and passion.

Although it is billed as a rock musical it is not without its complexities and under the musical direction of Lauren Coles the company delivered a very credible performance with some outstanding solo parts and performers.

Strongest of these was Simon Burgess as Roger the struggling songwriter, who clearly has a great understanding of the piece, claiming Rent to be his favourite musical and having tackled the role previously on stage. Mark was played by Chris Cahill and again delivered a king pin performance as the filmmaker and story narrator.

A force of alliteration alone was Mairead Mallon as Mimi Marquez who like a few others struggled at times in some of the more powerful songs but proved she has a sweet singing voice in the gentler ballads.

Amy Willis was Maureen and took on the rousing individual song Over the Moon with flair and energy .IT tech Tom Collins was played by Luke Hopson with his Transvestite counterpart Angel played by Jonathan Blake. Both did a great job and never shirked from the intimacy this relationship requires on stage.

Last of the lead parts were Gabby Thompson as Joanne and Josef Fleming as Benjamin and again showed they were capable of handling some very difficult musical sections. What was impressive by the whole company was the acting and the clarity of the dialogue was never lost during the performance.

One improvement that could have been made was the sound of the live band who performed very well but were lost at times against the microphoned vocals

This production pretty much follows those that have gone before but overall though, under the good direction of James Baldwin, the company produced a fully paid up performance with no arrears and with a favourable Rent  review it’s well worth a short term let on a seat. To 17-05-14

Jeff Grant


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