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KATS - Acorn Antiques the Musical!

19th to 21st February 2015.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Chris Tarrant drops by to ham it up with KATS

Cast enjoy video guest appearance by broadcaster

KATS: Acorn Antiques The Musical!, at Kennet School, from Thursday, February 19, to Saturday, February 21

Victoria Wood had a big London success with this show in 2005. Directed by Trevor Nunn, it ran for three sell-out months. She decided to send up the musical theatre tradition with a comic, and often bawdy, satire rather than a biting one.

The show revolves around the attempts of a group of shopkeepers and their staff members to survive when the holding company intends to sell out the shops for property development.

At least that is how it begins... although later development takes in missing family, discovery of new family and lots more besides.

It is all good fun, with the previously-respectable shops being turned into a 'Memorable Piercing salon' - motto 'no hole too big' and 'The Hong Kong Thong and Panti Hut', the last with a sale on.

The clever fold-back stage worked well and gave us two well-defined locations, and special guest Chris Tarrant appeared briefly, courtesy of a television video clip.*

There were lots of good joke sequences, not least the woman who went to the new shop for coffee, asked for her usual Brazilian and ended up with something a lot more painful than she intended.

KATS gave a spirited, well-paced performance of this feelgood show. Claire Bowden as Miss Babs was able to ham it up like a good 'un, much as I'm sure Victoria Wood intended.

The same goes for Siouxsie Millard, Mike Cole, Rhiannon Bland, Duncan Hall, Mike Scott-Cound, Aiden Strickland and the actors in smaller roles.

Everybody acted, sang and busked effectively from start to finish.

The best part, Mrs Overall, was played for all it was worth by Kate Leek, disproving what one critic described as Julie Walter's inimitable performance in this role.

Although she appeared to have studied the Walters performance in detail, it would have been well-nigh impossible to play it any other way.

And the audience loved it, as indeed they did the entire show.


* Chris Tarrant filmed (exclusively for KATS) the part of the main character's deceased father, reading his will, which the other actors interact with. In the professional production the same part was played (on video) by Ronnie Corbett. The video is played on a TV set wheeled on stage. The appearance was kept under wraps from the audience - the cast only found out on Tuesday night.