Staying at a hotel nearby, I took the opportunity to buy a ticket for the visiting production of Oliver Goldsmith to give me the chance to see inside this beautiful theatre which dates back to c1840 although the main styling is from the late Victorian period. What impressed me most, apart from the glorious detail of the interior decoration, was the warm welcome I received from every single person connected with the theatre from the booking office staff to the ushers, one of whom gave me an impromptu tour. That's how to make a theatre work! [Tours, incidentally, are available for €5 without seeing a production by contacting the theatre.]
As to the show, it was a scintillating production of "She Stoops to Conquer" by the impressively proficient Creative Cow company. We were treated to a brilliantly conceived production with actors, some only starting their careers, as talented as many professionals treading the boards today. It seems unfair to single out anyone in the small and cohesive ensemble but David Summer and Katherine Senior excelled as the Hardcastles with palpable stage chemistry between them. However, two younger actors, George Jennings [Marlow] and Joe Bateman [Tony Lumpkin], almost stole the show with their characterisations – George delivering his effete witty lines with razor-sharp clarity (even at speed) and Joe, whose brilliant facial expressions, allied to perfect diction, were crucial to understanding his character. Ingeniously directed by Amanda Knott, the comedy poured off the stage assisted by clever costumes and inventive set. Whilst, initially, I only went to see the interior of this historic theatre, I came away knowing I would follow the progress of this superb company in the future. A post-performance discussion with the cast only added to the enjoyment of the evening.
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