Little Theatre Company
Live theatre in the heart of Burton upon Trent
Acorn Antiques The Musical
by Victoria Wood
Performed: November 2014
Review by Ross Lowe - Down Stage Centre
Top hats. Tap shoes. Tantrums. Laddered tights and varicose veins. And not forgetting pair after pair of marigold gloves.
Only one person could be responsible for such a heady and decidedly British mix, and that person is most definitely Victoria Wood. This week at The Brewhouse Arts Centre in Burton upon Trent, her best-loved characters are brought to life in ‘Acorn Antiques: The Musical’ courtesy of Little Theatre Company
First things first: there’s nothing little about this production. They’ve thrown the kitchen sink, several sink plungers and a whole host of mesmerising wigs (not to mention a stuffed leopard) at this one, and it pays off in spades. From the moment the lights dim and we’re treated to a selection of local 1970’s cinema-style advertisements courtesy of ‘Peel & Dern’ it’s clear that not only does director John Bowness and his company ‘get’ Victoria Wood’s sharp yet affectionate humour, they’ve embraced it, invited it in for a mug of Ovaltine (with the skin on) and sat on a comfy sofa together for a good chinwag over one of Mrs. Overall’s famous macaroons.
Hearing the dialogue unfold you can almost picture Wood chuckling at her typewriter as she wrote it, and none of the continual gags are wasted by this energetic and talented company. Set in Manchesterford, a bustling English small-town still lamenting the demise of “threepenny bits, capital punishment and ‘Sing Something Simple’” we’re introduced to the local shopowners, fronted by Miss Babs (Elaine Pritchard) and Miss Berta (Heather Gallagher), a terrific tweed and hairstyle double-act who run the titular Acorn Antiques. This sumptuous duo are a delight throughout, none more so than when they combine with the rest of the cast during the ‘Tip Top Tap’ which closes the first act and ‘Shagarama!’, a karaoke-led anthem to Brits abroad which swaggers into the middle of Act Two.
Along with the droll Mr Clifford (a thoroughly enjoyable turn by Craig Atkinson) whose afflictions include arranging the selotape-holder and re-positioning the leopard in a show of OCD feng-shui, and Miss Bonnie (Vicky Fryer) they keep things ticking along among the chintz. But the strange glue that holds things together is the grizzled Mrs. Overall, a fantastically rheumatoid portrayal from Katie Haywood. Her main number ‘Macaroons’ is a show highlight and her entrance during ‘Oh, O Mrs O!’ on a stairlift (which, rather thrillingly, was supplied to the Little Theatre Company by ‘Acorn Stairlifts’) capped a fabulous performance.
As the suave and carb-free loan-shark Tony (Rob Tunley) looks set to capitalise on Manchesterford’s swift demise into a world of Hong Kong thongs, piercing parlours, botox booths and Guilty Bean coffee shops, things begin to look bleak for Babs, Berta et al. Only the truth about Mrs O and a change of heart from Miss Bonnie can turn things around for Acorn Antiques, and the humour continues to flow as the show reaches a thoroughly enjoyable ending.
A very British and very funny night-out courtesy of the Little Theatre Company, full of Vim with a capital V.
Images from this show
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