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A Class Act - Kelly's Eye

12th to 14th February 2009.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

An eye for modern issues

A Class Act Theatre Company: Kelly's Eye, at Arlington Arts, from Thursday, February 12 to Saturday, February 14

It's a brave man who will attempt to write and present an original piece of theatre. David Slade's production of Kelly's Eye was topical, modern, crammed full of good ideas and was both thought-provoking and entertaining.

The theme was bullying - and it was all seen through the eyes of Kelly (Rosie Sinfield) who was excellently and cleverly portrayed on a giant video screen - a powerful presence, narrating and commenting incisively on the unfolding story. This was an innovative and superb touch, underlining Kelly's isolation as she lived out her life in cyberspace.

In a series of vignettes, we met the well-drawn characters - an adult bully, with an impressive performance from Gary Brown as Jesse, and his abused wife Martina, who was well played by Wendy Orpwood (both also delivering great vocals). Then there was the 'posh' family and they were very effectively brought to life by Duncan Mack (William), and Natasha Kendall (Jennifer).

Despite the underlying seriousness of the subject, the script still managed to extract humour, and David Slade has a good ear for contemporary dialogue. This was most evident in the child actors' excellent performances: Louella Wison (Kylie), Beth Slade (Tina), Georgie Robson (Sarah), Paul O'Connor (Gavin), Sarah Baddesly (Victoria), Nicola Brooker (Freya), Ross Agar (Elton) and Ellie Brown (Andrea).

In the playground, the three teenage bullies, Pete Richings (Thom), Shaun Blake (Jed), Rhiannon Garrett (Jules) were also well depicted, Thom finally getting his come-uppance.

Dennis Heath as Monty and John Gibbs as Gordon re-created their camp roles from Azure Blue. They were a favourite with the audience and Rachel Haynes as Heather delivered some cracking dialogue while Siobhan Coates (Avril) and Helen Bazin (Alanis) provided good cameo performances.

R-Te Crew (choreographed by Josh Barrow) added a real urban feel with lively and exciting hip hop dancing - a highlight for me was the opening of the second act - a wonderful piece of theatre.

The setting was simple, but a host of props and furniture accurately set the scenes. The first act would have benefited from some judicious pruning and some of the musical numbers, while good in their own right, jarred a little, for me at least, in the course of the action. That said, there was loads of talent on view and it was in all, most interesting and enjoyable - congratulations to all concerned.