Autumn Review Show - 'A Tribute Two'
N.O.D.A. (East) Review
by Stephen Hayter - Region E4N Representative
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB
A Tribute Two
The Corn Exchange King’s Lynn
Friday October 19th, 2012
I last reviewed this unique group back in March and at the point the curtain opened I really didn’t understand what they were all about. This time however I was more than ready for their Autumn offering which turned out to be a review show featuring sketches from Messrs’ Barker and Corbett.
Writing any review is a challenge but for an all-inclusive organisation like The Lavender Hill Mob Theatre Company, with so many of its members facing the sort of challenges I can only imagine, drawing the line between inspiration and perspiration is practically impossible. I am not sure I got it right last time out and so will try even harder this time to recognise the level of the individual achievement in the face of adversity, whilst not disrespecting them by just simply saying everything was worthy, uplifting and nice.
“Worthy, uplifting and nice” are three words that do apply completely but in this remarkable ensemble piece there is no getting away from the fact that there were highs and lows. As with the pantomime before it, some cast members were a little sketchy on their lines and a couple of the items on offer looked like the people in them had only just met in the wings and decided to go out on stage without much idea what they would do when they got there. By complete contrast Richard Cavell-Clark who took a third of the “Three Classes” sketches was word perfect and with a lovely characterisation. Poppy Golding and Shaz Yates took a few prompts but got the most laughs from a single item with the beautifully written “The Yokels” and only the struggle to hear the words stopped “The Brass Band” from stealing the first half. I know I said it all last time but I was again moved by the wonderful Ford Bailey, who’s own battles were quite obvious but he was prompt free and an inspiration to watch.
The second half moved the production up a gear with some very polished continuity links from Les Miles and Shaz Yates who were superb as Gert and Daisy, and as comfortable with each other as they were with the audience. Sarah Mawby (who I last saw as Laurey in Oklahoma!) popped up unexpectedly with a beautiful rendition of “When Love Has Gone”. It looked odd amongst everything else in the program but was a quality performance none-the-less. I loved the knight school sketch written and directed by Shaz Yates which featured the magnificent James Hohol who was omnipresent throughout the entire show and I only just managed not to blub during the lovely “Secrets and Lies” routine.
The diverse nature of the itinerary only added to the charm of the production with the last section rather randomly devoted to a play called “Trouble At The Cherry Tree Inn”. I believe this was adapted from an award winning forty minute piece from the Hunstanton Festival but, although I scoured the program, I could find no mention of playwright or history. It was a well delivered piece with nice performances from Poppy Gilding as Jenny Scott Maidservant; James Hohol again, this time as Judd Poultney and Mike Miles as Coachman Dan Foggett with good support from most of the ensemble.
My sincere congratulations to Artistic Director, Les Miles and Choreographer, Tony Lamb and my hat is once again completely off to Musical Director, Tim Rock for some incredibly accurate recreations of the Two Ronnie’s material and some wonderful original pieces including the “Midlife Crisis” song which was a triumph. The Corn Exchange auditorium may have been less full than I was expecting but I am confident that all those who had turned out went away well satisfied, just as I did.
Stephen P E Hayter