Review: Bad Girl makes good theatre

Lifestyle / Wed 12th Oct 2016 pm31 02:23pm

Review by William Tennison

BAD Girls is an original British musical, based on the award winning television drama, as Wing Governor Helen Stewart battles with old guards Sylvia Hollamby and Jim Fenner to improve the lives of the inmates at Larkhall Prison. This fight for rights is intertwined with the drama of love and life that the prisoners see everyday.

Bad girls is the second instalment in as many years from the creative team of director Jody Randall, Paul Tarling and Sara Green, who choreographed the production, and musical director Chris Redman. The original being the hugely successful production of RENT which featured last year at Victoria Hall.

The musical in its entirety was very enjoyable, being comedic, emotional and poignant at the same time. The cast were largely excellent with vocal which gave me goosebumps at times particularly in “The Baddest and the Best” and “This is my life,” where the harmonies were simply beautiful. Particular praise should be given to Karen Warncken, who played Helen Stewart, and Sarah Randall, as Julie Sanders, whose solos were excellent, Sarah even managed to bring tears to my eyes. Chris Redman has the music and singing spot on!

The real star of the show was Paul Johnson, in his very first musical, playing the sinister but hilarious Jim Fenner. Paul turned his character from terrifying to funny so quickly and easily that it made me wonder why he wasn’t in the West End. His solo “The Key” was incredible as it made everyone in the audience feel instantly uncomfortable this was paired with the simple but effective choreography. As soon as Paul stepped on stage you felt an immediate hatred but also fondness for him,helped by his ever great stage presence. Credit should also be given to Stevie Doherty-Hall, who played Shell Dockley, the baddest bitch in the prison never putting a foot wrong!

Criticisms? This very fun show was a little let down in just a few areas; the unnecessarily loud and messy scene changes which can only be described as clunky coupled with use of multiple doors on stage just made the direction look awkward.

I was also not a fan of the attempt at immersive theatre at the start of the production by having prisoner guards wandering around the bar and theatre, The ensemble parts played by Maddie Parker and Katie Mead (in the second act) were unnecessary. They both did a good job in their role but I felt that neither character added anything to the plot. But these are minor quibbles in an otherwise, brilliant production.

The show runs until Saturday with two sold out nights already I really recommend that you get your tickets as soon as possible, you won’t regret seeing such a great production. Tickets can be bought from the Victoria Hall website or by clicking on the link below: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/harlowtheatrecompany

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