Information for Cheshire Cats (2014)
Cheshire Cats, was a Play directed by Sarah O'Connor.
This tells the story of a group of girls planning to ‘Walk the Walk’ with the London Moonwalk in aid of the Breast Cancer Charity. Follow the team as they speedwalk their way to fundraising success in the London Moonwalk. Five girls are attempting to walk 13 miles across the capital in record time in their decorated bras and posh new trainers, but the sixth member of their team doesn't seem to meet the physical criteria!
‘Cheshire Cats’ is a cross between a girls' night out and a real mission to support a cause close to many hearts, with plenty of laughs and a few tears along the way.
The first night ticket sales will go to the charity and we would welcome contact from teams taking part in the Walk the Walk.
NODA Review and Other Comments
I'm gutted that the audiences for this wonderful production were so small - a regular frustration for companies who take that 'leap of faith' and stage something relatively unknown, but that their members will love.
This production of 'Cheshire Cats' was both funny and moving in equal parts. The team of 'walkers' had obviously bonded well during rehearsals and this chemistry was evident throughout the production. Each character was well developed with only a few variations in performance levels. That said, some of the characters were performed with great skill and, where necessary, an emotionality that caught the audience's breath.
The strongest example of this came from a combination of great writing and great timing. The last moment of the play that we spent with Maggie was like a punch in the stomach, as her last line "This year they're walking for me." Resonated around the auditorium. Stunned silence and weeping eyes ensued for this powerful moment.
While we're on the subject of crying, let's get the other weepy moment out the way. Well, weepy for me. Hilary's 'poetic moment' which centred on her relationship with her mother really caught me (and my mum, who was sat next to me!). This is where the beauty of this play lies, in the clever 'poetic moments', where each of the characters step out of their scenes and deliver some insight into their personalities, each carry empathetic messages that reach different members of the audience. Each one was performed well, although I felt a couple of them, such as Siobahn's, came across as a little 'recited' and I would have liked a bit more 'cougar' from Vicky - but these are genuinely minor observations.
Vicky, who was essentially the character who led us through the story, was played with a kind of quiet grace that balanced well against the larger characters in the team. She had a tough job, jumping in and out of scenes to perform little bits of back story, which would have been helped by some more dramatic lighting changes.
No good play works without playing on different emotions and balancing the heartbreak were some hilarious, 'laugh-out-loud' moments that caught me by surprise due to the brilliant comic timing by the cast.
The 'battle of wills' between Yvonne and Andrew was priceless with such beautifully timed quips and barbs, while Hillary's Brigadier-like training regimen was a constant source of laughs as the rest of the team struggled along (especially trouper Siobhan). Actually, the principals all demonstrated good performance skills, but one of the lovely facets of this script is the scope for some wonderful cameos in the form of race marshals, police and aerobics instructor we encounter along the route of the big race (not forgetting the soothing musical stylings of an amiable drunk!). Some really nice character work had been done to fill these small parts with personalities that made as big an impact on the audience as the main team.
Special mention has to go to Marshal Marge and her sidekick, who were such a funny double act I found myself longing for a spin-off play featuring their antics! Further demonstration that the smallest part can make a huge impact came in the form of the Station Announcer - a role that could have easily been covered with a simple voice-over, but here was portrayed in such a dead-pan fashion (right down to the way he entered and exited the stage) that we were in stitches! Brilliant!
From a technical standpoint the show was presented in a simple style with white back cloth, washed with coloured lighting and a decorated with a skyline drawn with a single line giving a very contemporary look. This look-and-feel was followed through with the use of a set of wooden chairs painted pink and a couple of plain tables. Where some might just use any chairs on the set, the director here has made a conscious effort to make them a key feature of the set, to great effect. There was also good use of ambient sound effects to further embellish the simple settings.
Breaking through the 'fourth wall' became a theme, not only with the delivery of each characters 'poems', but also with some entrances that came from the back of the auditorium and past our ears - the 'race' to the finish line was one such good use of this. Ah yes. Mustn't finish without mention of the team's walking outfits. 'Fabulous' is the the word to sum up these eye catching designs which became the key image left in our minds from the production... and Andrew, nice tutu!
Congratulations for such a great show HATS, you should all be very proud of this one. Keep up the good work!
Cast, includes (amongst others)
|Station Announcer||Colin Burton|
|Aerobics Instructor||Jennie Dodd|
|Race organiser||Sarah Leach|
|Marshalls||Stuart Napier, Jenny Ball, Carol Williams|
|Amiable Drunk||Peter Whitehead|