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7th Jul, 2022

Theatre Review - 'Our Day Out'

Malvern Editorial 20th Feb, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

Reviewed by Lee Farley

Willy Russell?s “Our Day Out” was written in the late seventies, but its themes of educational conflict and social mobility are surprisingly, and somewhat depressingly, still relevant in 2014. It is easy to see why the play is consistently revived – it?s smart, well written and doesn?t allow its polemic to become overwhelming.

Russell sensibly chooses not to bury his themes in “bully-minded liberalism”, instead treating us to a comic musical entertainment, performed here with energy, commitment and skill by Malvern Theatre Players.

This is an ensemble production. The majority of the cast spend the whole play onstage. This gives them the opportunity to forge relationships & create a group dynamic which is utterly convincing.

Chris Green?s direction is full of wise choices – props are mimed, locations are created simply with benches, songs and scenes are allowed space for clarity. A large projection and video screen treats us to colourful and bold images which precisely match the energy and atmosphere of the production. Simple, but extremely effective design.

Russell?s theme of education is explored and persuasively argued via two opposing ideological viewpoints championed by Andrew Howie?s disciplinarian Mr Briggs and Susan Jago?s more relaxed Mrs Kay. Both actors bring intelligence and truthfulness to the roles; we empathise with both characters, there are no straightforward heroes or villains in this complex text.

The school?s Progress Class creates an opportunity for a large number of young local actors to create convincing characters within the dedicated company. They bring a tremendous vibrancy to the production; their focus is consistent, their interpretations thoughtful and dynamic. All of the young actors deserve huge credit for their performances, in particular Lindsay Tudhope & Sarah Jackson?s lovestruck Linda & Jackie, Harry Chick?s swaggering smoker Reilly and Imogen Sharp?s vulnerable and sensitive Carol – her powerful & emotional song and subsequent scene on the cliff with Mr Briggs left this reviewer with an unexpected tear in his eye.

This production is built by a committed company of local actors, designers, technicians and musicians. It is funny, moving, theatrical and expertly put together. Go and see it – it?s on until Saturday 22nd.

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