Review: Harlow Playhouse audience approve of A Chorus of Disapproval

Entertainment / Fri 10th May 2024 at 11:44am

Review: A Chorus of Disapproval by Harlow Amateur Theatre Society (HATS)

Harlow Playhouse: Thursday May 9th

THE story follows a young widower, Guy Jones, as he joins an amateur operatic society putting on The Beggar’s Opera.

He rapidly progresses through the ranks to become the male lead, while simultaneously conducting liaisons with several of the female cast.

This is the first time we have seen Kristian Burnett and he was a sea of calm sadness as Guy. Yes he is in the middle of a farce but his story is a sad one and he pitched it perfectly.

This was an opportunity for the actors to embrace the farce. The chaotic rehearsals have to be seen as chaotic and they certainly did that.

The first half felt a little long and we also felt it took a while to get going. But it is hard to truncate the play without losing the sense of tone.

Jody Randall was a force of nature as Dafydd ap Lewellyn the director. A character full of sound and fury but also signifying a sadness within.

One of the best scenes in the play was the tea shop in the second half. Lucy Ashton as Hannah and Jess Ricketts as Fay were superb. Lucy brought real empathy to her role. She was the embodiment of a life lived in quiet desperation.

Although Jess’ role was of a swinging housewife, she did menace superbly. Bit like Sally from Coronation Street plays Lady MacBeth!

We just felt that scene close up showed how good these actors are.

As you can see each and every actor made the character their own. Of course, Chris Millington stole every scene as Jarvis. He never dials it in and again, and did the hard headed Yorkshireman when he needed to.

There were actors we hadn’t seen in a while (Dolleen Howlett) and a relative newcomer (Emelia DeFreitas). Both brought a freshness and vitality to the roles. As Emelia has undertaken work experience as a journalist at YourHarlow, we are sure we will correct all our mistakes here!

What you see with an experienced actress such as Dolleen is how she can take throw-away and yet make sure they are given the weight they deserve.

The same can be said of actors such as Luke O’Keefe as Ian Hubbard. A lot of the actors were able to take us back to the early eighties, local theatre and local businesses.

Danny Gleeson is always a vital member of any troupe he is with. Sometimes his roles feel like cameos but at the same time they always have depth and meaning. That was especially true of his Ted Washbrook. We think he brought one member of the audience to tears!

This was a true ensemble piece, so again, may we praise Lynn Guyton as Enid, Jake Hannam as Crispin and John Utting as Mr Ames.

Abbie Martin was again a force of nature. Not sure we would want to get into an argument with her Bridget.

We also think the play has a lot of technical challenges with choreography and lighting. One particular scene involving a lighting rehearsal and a conversation between Hannah and Guy was an object lesson in timing.

It would be remiss not to mention the actual musical numbers. The fact that they could slot in sections of The Beggars Opera so easily, speaks volumes.

This was one of those performances, that we would probably have liked to see again but we dont have that luxury. Doing that, we would fully appreicate the hard work and application that goes into a production like this.

In conclusion, we approve of A Chorus of Disapproval. On until Saturday.


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