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

amy as rosemary

Amy Cooper as the tired and emotional as a newt Rosemary in Rattigan's Duologue

Something Classical

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


It was almost a sort of `girl power’ evening, for the Nonentities final offering, in their series of short plays set under the title of Something Classical.

The past four weeks have certainly challenged the company, in that the performances are very exposed. With these solo monologues there’s no hiding in the ensemble or waiting for a co-player to give a line that gets you back on track. From that pressure has sprung some captivating performances that show just what talent is offer.

The quality continued with the first play Her Big Chance by Alan Bennett, featuring Hannah Tolley and directed by Martin Slater.  This poignant story, tells of a young film starlet, following her dream to fame via the casting couch. Lesley is an actress who is invested in her craft, but seems to be hired more for her physical attributes, rather than her acting ability. Miss Tolley was excellent in the part and kept the story moving along sweetly as she recalled for us, yet another comi-tragic story of one her film acting roles.


Hannah Tolley as gullible actress Lesley hired not so much for her talent as her , , , more visible attributes

Next was Duologue by Terrence Rattigan, featuring Amy Cooper and Directed by Jen Eglinton. This play from 1968, set in the London suburbs, tells of Rosemary a woman recently widowed. Her deceased `architect’ husband, from Huddersfield, seems to have married way above his station and one night after a party and fuelled by alcohol, she enters into a conversation with him revisiting the night of his death. Miss Cooper switched easily from the clipped middle class tone, into that of her burly Northern husband, as the hours leading up to his untimely death are revealed.

If the phrase `saving the best till last’ is in any way true, then the final play Lady Bracknell’s Confinement with Joe Harper is a prime contender. This hilarious reconstruction of The Importance of Being Ernest, written by Paul Doust, was not only a superb end to the evening, but a great closing testament to a month of plays, that would give any professional company a thrashing.

joe as bracknell

Joe Harper gives us the lowdown on the real Lady Bracknell . . .

Directed again by Jen Eglinton, Mr Joe Harper, dressed in the full attire of a well to do lady of the 1850s, recounts the incredibly complicated tale of how he manages to rise to the unlikely position of wife to a Lord, and conceal his manhood to the point of even producing children. It’s been a long time since I have laughed out loud at any performance and yet Mr Harper was outstanding in mining every comic moment from this very funny script. The depth of his portrayal though was countered with a moment of serious drama that delivered an emotional punch to his role. 

It’s taken around 30 people to bring these plays to life and get the theatre up and running again.  This series of plays by the Nonentities has been superb and yet it has been disappointing that this run of stellar solo performances were not witnessed by more people.

Hopefully soon the theatre will return to a more normal programme, when restrictions are fully lifted. But for now it’s unlikely that any of these solo plays will be seen again, so this really is the last chance, to see the last three performances, and what this very talented company can do. To 30-07-21. 

Jeff Grant


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