Theatre Review - Duets, Blackburn Drama Club – Thwaites Empire Theatre

Duets - Blackburn Drama Club

Duets - Blackburn Drama Club - Credit: Archant

After a well-earned break, Blackburn Drama Club are back with their new season and kicking off is the four-shows-in-one play, “Duets” written by Peter Quilter.

Quilter’s play looks at the aspects of love and relationships from different points of view with the story split into four each featuring two characters.

Blind Date

The first short tells the story of Jonathan, a “37 year old” man who has arranged to meet Wendy on a blind date at his house with the sole purpose that they will simply talk for fifteen minutes to see how they get on before deciding on taking the next step. The story shows the ups and downs of meeting a person for the first time in the search for love and plays nicely on the nervousness of the situation. Roger Boardman plays the role of Jonathan in a wonderfully loveable and humorous way with Jacqui Mooney portraying the timid and shy fashion of Wendy exceedingly well.

Secretarial Skills

The irrepressible Barrie is a homosexual man who has the world in the palm of his hands. He is enjoying life and living it to the full. His secretary, Janet, is responsible for everything that Barrie does and enjoys no more than looking after him. For Barrie is the closest thing Janet will have to a husband, despite their sexual incompatibility. She ponders on a life of being happy and loving someone, but not necessarily being in love. David Batterby bounded onto stage with camp air and hilarious characteristics as the eccentric Barrie with the excellent Kate Roberts as Janet without a hint of either of them allowing their American accents to drop throughout providing a thoroughly entertaining and well-rounded story.

The Holiday

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Married couple, or soon to be divorced couple, Bobby and Shelley have decided rather than to hire solicitors to deal with their divorce, they would spend one last holiday in Spain together unanimously breaking their marriage up in the most compatible way. What begins as a relaxing holiday soon starts to affect the couple’s feelings towards each other with the evidence that the amicability is waning. A play with amusing connotations throughout slowly begins to expel the underlying sadness in the reality of the situation to round off a wonderful story. The superb Clive Stack pulls off a wonderful portrayal of Bobby with the equally excellent Carolanne Connolly who literally staggers into the story complete with cocktail as his soon to be ex-wife.

Bride to Be

Angela is minutes away from being married. For the third time. Her brother, Toby, is starting to lose patience as he tries to usher his sister away from the house to the neighbour’s garden where her guests and husband to be are waiting. But a series of superstitious events put doubt in Angela’s mind questioning whether she is doing the right thing and it is up to the increasingly stressed Toby to convince her so. Martyn Pugh plays the role of Toby with suitable sarcasm and patronising air which compels the comedic performance in his role. Catherine Strickland is excellent as bride-to-be Angela with a flurry of nerves in a meticulously professional performance.

The beauty of the four pieces is not only the subjects they convey, but the way each of the actors are suited to each other in the characters they portray. Each actor plays beautifully off each other to produce warming, funny and often moving performances really bringing natural life to each story.

Usually accustomed to performing on stage, Claire St. Pierre and Paddy Walsh have stepped to one side to take joint directorial duties both showcasing wonderful talent in their debuts. Their direction allowed each story to flow into each other beautifully with the actors returning to the stage for each section to change the set round all staying in character as they did so. The choice of colours to light the stage of each story differently marvellously partitioned each section from each other. It was a fresh and modern way to look at the theatre and they both proved they are gifted in more ways than one.

With four plays in one you are assured value for money. Combined with superb direction and absorbing performances you are also ensured of yet another highly entertaining evening courtesy of Blackburn Drama Club.

The show continues from Thursday 2nd October up to and including Saturday 4th October at 7.30pm at the Empire Thwaites Theatre in Blackburn. You can visit the website for more details.