Dry Rot Review

Dry Rot- Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub 


Writer: John Chapman

Director: Ron Aldridge


When the show begins you could be forgiven for thinking this would be another ‘More tea Vicar-whoops there goes my trousers’ farce. But it is so much more than that. Hilarious from the outset this show is sure to heave you gasping for air while having laugh after laugh.

Written in 1954, Dry Rot is a tale of skulduggery in the racing industry. Colonel Wagstaff (Neil Stacey), his wife Doris (Liza Goddard) and daughter Susan (Evelyn Adams), are the new owners of a hotel very close to a racetrack. Their first ever guests are crooked Bookie Alfred Tubbe (Darren Nesbitt), his valet Fred Phipps (Norman Pace) and Secretary John Danby (Bob Saul). Throw into the mix crook Flash Harry (Gareth Pace) and Beth the hotel maid, played by Susan Penhaligon who hilariously steals every scene she is in, and you have the mad mix.

The plot, in which a crooked bookie and his two accomplices devise a cunning ‘get rich quick’ plan to kidnap the odds-on favourite horse and replace it with their own decrepit nag leads to one ridiculous situation after another. The romance between Danby and Susan is a tad sickly sweet compared to the romance between Beth and Phipps which is just sweet. Secret doors, split-second timing, flawless physical comedy and a hilarious French jockey played by Michael Keane contribute to the funniest scene in the show. But Sergeant Fire (Sarah Whitlock) in a scene where she constantly walks in on the crooked bookies in a state of undress is a close second.

Billed as a classic it’s easy to see why it’s on the National Theatre’s top 100 plays list. Worth the trip to Darlington for Susan Penhaligon alone, you really shouldn’t miss this hilarious farce.

Beyond the Barricade Review

Beyond the Barricade – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub 



Producers: Andy Reiss, David Fawcett

Musical Director: Andy Reiss


The ethos of Beyond the Barricade is that only ex members of Les Miserables are cast in the production; this is so no one is under the illusion as to the quality of the performers. And you do see a quality performance. Laced with a few jokes and a bit of audience banter the show is fantastic.

Flowing seamlessly from Phantom to We Will Rock You to Lion King, you get a whole range of West End hits. All four singers have amazing voices and it would be unfair to single out any special praise for an individual however Katie Leemings vocals for Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from Evita and Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers are outstanding. And while you are still wiping away the tears Rebecca Vere hits you with Only The Good Die Young from WWRY leading to an emotional few moments. David Fawcett is a perfect master of ceremonies for the evening and has a vast knowledge of all things theatrical which he combines with comedy – and then tops it all off with a huge voice. He is just as happy playing Poomba in The Lion King as he is raising the roof as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

Completing this extremely talented quartet is Andy Reiss who possesses a charismatic stage presence and an incredible rock musical voice that creates a very powerful Judas in Superstar from Jesus Christ Superstar and also a very comedic Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors. Not content with just blasting out the more rock-style numbers and playing keyboards, he also acts as musical and creative director for the tour.

The simple but effective lighting is supplemented with a large video screen which provides visual backup and affords several opportunities to share with the audience a slide show which gives the whole performance an extremely friendly, almost intimate, feeling. When the Freddie Mercury slide popped up his photo got a round of applause without any singing. But a special mention must be made because the regular Lighting engineer wasn’t at the performance due to his wife giving birth that morning and an unnamed volunteer had stepped in at the last minute from the Civic. But you wouldn’t have guessed as it all ran seamlessly

The finale of Les Miserables, with favourites like At The End Of The Day, Stars, On My Own and I Dreamed A Dream, which raised the roof. The group returned to a standing ovation for their One Day More encore which ends the musical’s first act, normally performed by a 25-strong group of singers and their orchestra. It was difficult to believe such musical and vocal strength came from the four singers and their modest band of 3 – a keyboard, drums and bass, near impossible to tell their performance from the West End’s

Beyond The Barricade is in its 13th year of touring if you’ve not seen it yet then go when its passing and you’ll have a fabulous night out