Albert Nobbs

Date 21st April 2022
Society Wigan Little Theatre
Venue Wigan Little Theatre, Crompton Street, Wigan
Type of Production Play
Director Tara Heywood

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

Albert Nobbs staged by Wigan Little Theatre at Wigan Little Theatre, Compton Street, Wigan on Friday, 21st April, 2022.

Written by Gordon Steel this play tells the story of Albert Nobbs life!  Albert’s life has been one of hard graft, but when retirement arrives… it isn’t at all what Albert expected! Instead of relaxing and taking thing easy, Albert finds himself bored and nagged senseless by his wife Connie. His world is turned upside down by sudden death of Connie in a car accident and he struggles to find a reason to carry on – until Connie returns as a ghost and sets about organising a fulfilling retirement for Albert, including matchmaking with her best friend Rose. Despite Albert’s protestations, he gradually learns to overcome his reluctance and begins to explore new opportunities, so that he and Connie can continue with ‘their journeys’ in different directions. A Blithe Spirit for the working class, Albert Nobbs charms and delights in equal measures, simultaneously devastatingly painful and delightfully funny.

Loved, loved, loved this production from ‘start to finish’! Tara Heywood (Director) should be congratulated for her vision of this funny, warm yet often poignant script which flowed with such natural effortless ease!  Well cast, with strong self-assured performances from all four actors who were well rehearsed and ready to work together as soon as those curtains opened.  Be ever so proud, Tara. Wonderful job!

A single simple set was used throughout which set a perfect backdrop for this play. The ‘opening scene’ and especially the ‘first few lines’ set the tone for the entire production!  The curtain opened and we found ourselves in the living room of ‘Connie’ (Christine Armstrong) and ‘Albert’ (John Churnside) home!  Albert is seen pacing up and down behind ‘Connie’s’ bed!  Connie can be seen lying prostrate on the bed, partly covered with a white sheet… she rises and states ‘I’m Dead’ which brought a wave of laughter that swept across the entire theatre which was almost full to capacity; she then returns to her prostrate position, only to rise again after the laughter dies and pontificate, ‘It’s not bloody funny’ … the place just fell about!

THE CAST of four included a ‘show stealing’ performance from John Churnside, who took on the title role of ‘Albert Nobbs’ and did himself proud!  I have seen John on a few occasions before playing Wigan Little Theatre’s Pantomime Dame of which he is a ‘master craftsman’, but this, I think, was the first role I have seen him in away from pantomime and what a performance he gave!  John captured the character perfectly, with wonderful facial expressions and mannerisms; stage presence aplenty, spot on comic timing, working ever so well with the other three, especially ‘Connie’… be so proud John… brilliant performance!   Christine Armstrong was another whose performance was excellent!  Christine played ‘Connie’, Albert’s wife who was killed in a road accident, but who has not yet passed over!  ‘Connie’ returns as a ghost to help Albert ‘save’ his own life!  Wonderful stage presence, great comic timing, wonderful characterisation, created so much fun but was also able to make the emotional moments count and her interactions with Albert throughout felt authentic … be ever so proud Christine, great performance!  Maureen Schofield took on the role of ‘Rose’… Connie’s best friend before she passed and now in Connie’s mind as Albert’s next romantic undertaking!  Maureen played this part really well; another with great stage presence, flirtatious, but was able to balance that with a natural warmth toward Albert!  Be proud Maureen, great job!  Nicola Reynolds took on the role of ‘Alice’ the nosy neighbour, who, at one point lost her teeth and had to borrow someone else’s! Great characterisation, totally believable, Nicola created some hilarious comedy moments … well done Nicola, be ever so proud! 

Staging/Set… as stated previously, a single/simple set was used throughout and provided an ideal platform to perform this wonderful play… congrats to Stage Managers: Paul Leffler, John Naughton and Joey Wiswell; Set Designers Brian Heap and Tara Haywood; Set Constrictors Brian Heap, Gary Hill, John Gostelow, David Flanagan and finally… Set Painters Christine Armstrong, Maureen Schofield, Maggie Hall, Val Miller, Patricia Ashurst, Ellen Fitton and Peter Jones.

Lighting… as always, the lighting at the Little Theatre was impressive…congrats to Owen Rasburn, Rachel Prater, Jacob Lathom and Kim Brown.  Sound… as with the lighting, sound is always good WLT, so congrats to Mel Meadows, Matthew Smalley and Rick Kershaw.

Wardrobe… was provided by the cast themselves and was appropriate.

Props/Stage Crew were provided by Ian Trumble, Veronica Teesdale, Karen Kelly, and Anne Martin

From the laughter and tears throughout, the applause at the end and from the comments I heard as I left the theatre, I think there is little or no doubt that this production was enjoyed by everyone who had been privileged enough to have seen it... wonderful job everyone, be proud of what you all helped to achieve!

Thank you once again for inviting my wife and I and thank you for such an amazing evening; it really is always a pleasure to visit you and I hope to see you again very soon!

Stay safe and keep well…

Jim Briscoe
NODA NW
District 6 Rep