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A Class Act - Scurrilous

20th to 22nd May 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Making it through the ranks

A Class Act Theatre Company: Scurrilous, at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, from May 20 to 22

In David Slade's latest production, Scurrilous, the action started with an explosive scene set in Afghanistan, full of terrific energy and drama, with the actors in full impressive kit. Here a soldier was injured and eventually airlifted to the UK. Next, back in this country, we witnessed a dance troupe in rehearsal, where a female dancer was dropped during a lift and spinally injured. So the scene was set and by the use of flashback, using young actors to play the roles of the two injured and their peer group, theirs and their families stories unfolded.

Writing an original piece of theatre is a considerable achievement - to bring it to the stage even more so. There were lots of good ideas and many interesting characters for the young and mature cast members to enjoy and it was good to see so many young people in the cast alongside a considerable adult contingent - they all entered into the piece with spirit and enthusiasm.

Shaun Blake as Dave the injured soldier and Alice Robins as the injured dancer Christine - both had difficult roles but handled them thoughtfully and well.

Emily Griffiths proved to be a thoroughly nasty piece of work as Wendy and praise to the actors playing the younger selves - Lewis Cooke (Dave) Lorren Allen (Christine) and Louella Wilson (Wendy) and also to all the gang. Many others gave good performances and it is impossible to single them out, but well done. Sasha Robaczynski in her choreographing debut should be proud of her achievements. Inventive routines and well-rehearsed dancers added highlights to the finished result. The set was open and scenes simply set by the use of props and furniture. Lighting, by Vicky Allen, created good atmosphere and the sound effects and helicopter voice-overs added authenticity.

So much incredible hard work must have gone on to bring this production to fruition - from the initial concept and writing to the rehearsals and technical elements.

For me. however, the whole production did not gel well. There were many sub-plots which sometimes distracted from the main thrust of the storyline and often these were a little corny. The solo songs felt incongruous, both in their placing and the sentiment delivered and while I saw the need to lift the rather serious plot with comedy, this is difficult, and this too, occasionally, jarred.

Despite these criticisms, it was a considerable achievement and a great credit to all concerned.