Return to the Forbidden Planet
11th July 2014
Hessle Theatre Company
Hull Truck Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Tony Harris
The first time I saw this show it took me a while to understand what was going on but this time, having been given the space flight emergency drill, it was easy to get into the style of the piece. I must admit however that here I had been a little disappointed on entering the auditorium as the expectation I had built up suggested that I would be boarding a space craft. Instead the set was a multi-level structure more akin, I imagine, to a rock concert set. There were some screens and computers and several of the cast, along with some members of Ian Appleyard’s excellent band, were milling around preparing for our flight.
After a rather slow and static opening the show soon moved into it’s stride with some excellent renditions of 1950s and 1960s rock and roll classics.
Pretty much everyone delivered the Shakespearian style dialogue well, meaning that the intended comedy lines and links to musical numbers were well set up. There were some strong performances from many of the cast and I was impressed with Russell Fallon as a very funny, roller skating Ariel (he learned for the show) and big-voiced Georgina Garton as Gloria, the ship’s new Science Officer. Captain Tempest was nicely played by James Galer and Rachel Barnes (Miranda) and Neal Edlin (Doctor Prospero) gave good characterisations.
And then there was Cookie! 21 year old Danny Bradley gave one of the best performances I have ever seen on an amateur stage. His delivery of the dialogue was absolutely spot on, he had a super stage presence, he sang well and he played keyboards, drums and a mean guitar! His performance of She’s Not There was quite superb. As singer/guitarist Charlie Gracie once sang, Fabulous! Stunning in fact and Danny was without doubt the star of the show.
That’s not to say there were many weaknesses anywhere and supporting players such as the Navigation Officer (Rachel Waters) and Bosun Arras (Kevin Hickson) were enthusiastic and entertaining. Several of the cast also played instruments to augment the band. However at times, especially early on, I did have difficulty spotting who was singing from where on the set and the early sound balance could have been better.
Sarah Lazenby and her small team of dancers performed energetically throughout and this was a very good society production debut for Director Richard Foot. The audience really got into the spirit of the whole show, many of them on their feet at the finale to give a deserved standing ovation.