Theatre Roundup: Week 6

Our anonymous Tab reviewer rushes round to give you an idea of how last week went down for the Durham thesps.


Chicago – Hild Bede Theatre


In a bustling queue of 300 excited audience members, I felt immediately drawn in by the sexy, simplistic set of HBT’s latest musical offering, ‘Chicago’. Two and a half hours later, it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed.

With dancing forming such a huge part of a musical such as ‘Chicago’, it was imperative that the cast concentrated on this aspect most, and this for the most part was done. Particularly impressive was the Cell Block Tango number, not only for the sensual movements but also Sophie Allen’s Hungarian, a surprising and welcome addition. Despite ‘Chicago’ seeming such a female-dominated musical, the male leads more than held their own with their truly three-dimensional characterisation. Harry Adair was a stand-out as Amos, and his relationship with Roxie (Lydia Feerick) contrasted his meekness with her cruelty towards him perfectly. Billy Flynn (Michael Yates) also played very well off the sexual energy from the dancers, and Velma (Eliza Cummings-Cove), despite her often awkward movement in the dances, showed off her voice well in her numbers.

In all, this was a fantastic display of musical talent, both within Hild Bede itself and the University as a whole, and the cast are to be congratulated!

Jazzy (Photo: Rose Innes)

Shakespearean Comedy Cabaret – DDO


It is ambitious indeed to extract ‘the funny bits’ from the corpus of Shakespeare and sew them together in an hour long comedy cabaret. Ambition that, I think, was rewarded in DDO’s offering.

Some regular culprits were taken up, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘s ‘Bottom’ played by Hannah Azonye, but some more rogue choices did vary the mix too, with George Rexstrew’s hilarious Nurse from Romeo and Juliet, complete with wig, causing me to laugh at loud. True, much of the acting was hammed up to pantomime-like levels, but this worked well, especially in group numbers. However, as much of the comedy in Shakespeare comes from the build up within the drama, it became apparent as the scenes were played out that a piece such as this had a limit to its enjoyability, if only from how it was structured, which was a shame.

Nevertheless, the whole cast are to be commended for their efforts, and with all proceeds going to charity, this was a thoroughly worthwhile evening.

Laughter-inciting scenes

Durham Improvised Musical


On Saturday night I was lucky enough to see DIM in action. Their challenge? Create an improvised musical with only the following information chosen by the audience: Title – The Swedish Meatball Fiasco, Setting – A women’s prison, Must include a song entitled – ‘Dennis, why did you set me on fire?’. You heard right.

I was a little dubious as to whether they would pull it off with a slightly hesitant opening number, but the show picked up when we met our first two inmates, Janice (Max Spence) and Audrey (Alex Prescot). Prescot may have annoyed his fellow actors by choosing to play a character who could only communicate through song, however many of the amusing situations ensued from this. Our chosen song, ‘Dennis, why have you set me on fire?’, performed by Callum Kenny and Simon Lynch, was an undoubtable highlight, with the whole cast relaxing into it. The show’s plot did become a little convoluted from this point, including a number about giving a baby hard drugs, but by the end they managed to sort it out somehow!

Considering this was some of the cast’s debut with DIM, they pulled off a great performance and I’m very excited to see what they come up with next!