Friday, April 19, 2024

The Standard Is Set At The Drama Festival

By Lisa Chapman

Tonight saw the start of the 37th British All Winners Drama Festival at the Thameside Theatre in Grays. First off the starting blocks was “Flamingoland”, a full length play written by Deborah McAndrew (ex-Corrie star) and performed by the Halifax Thespians, winners of the Wakefield and Skegness Festivals.

A very emotional rollercoaster this one, covering a multitude of subjects which at first, until the plot thickens, focuses on “shoot from the hip” Mari who is dying from cancer. Later on a family secret is unearthed and all hell is let loose with relationships pushed to the limits although not without plenty of humour. The story revolves around Mari and her sister Bridie, their daughters Kathleen and Sadie and then Dave, the visiting environmental health officer who pops in and out to deal with the squirrel family occupying Mari’s council house roof.

The script is a clever piece of writing but is obviously no good without an able group of actors to deliver and deliver they did. Julie Johnston playing Mari had great timing and was believable with her sharp put downs and acid tongue. Her bubbly daughter Kathleen, often at the receiving end of this, was portrayed beautifully by Kerry Fennelly, who even when she wasn’t the central focus on stage was always quietly getting on with her role. Without taking anything away from the other members of the cast who all did a brilliant job I would like to see her as a nominee for best actress. Jeanne O’Rourke was fabulous as Bridie, the long suffering sister and John Davies (Dave) and Maria Peters (Sadie) both played their parts well.

From my point of view, if the rest of the plays this week are as enjoyable as this one then all is well in Festival Land!


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