Wednesday, 22 January 2020
AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: Breath Of Spring - The Little Theatre, Altrincham. Greater Manchester.
Breath Of Spring premiered in 1978 but has echoes of certain 1950’s films which deal with a similar theme, in which a group of older, respectable gentlefolk decide to form a criminal gang; examples are ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’ with Alec Guinness and ‘The League of Gentlemen’, starring Jack Hawkins. The difference here is that the ‘gang’ is comprised of older women but led a male ex-army officer, so limiting the effect of women taking on a normally male preserve. However, the idea of older, well-to-do women getting involved in this kind of enterprise would have seemed novel, even in the 1970s.
Breath of Spring is a timepiece, firmly rooted in the 1950s and Altrincham Little Theatre did an excellent job of creating the look of a wealthy London apartment from this period.The play is written very much in the old-style tradition of three acts, each separated by a significant time period in the story but Director Gary Woodhall got round this with the superb idea of inserting a mixed-media slot, which not only gave the impression of a two-act play but actually helped progress the story. It also gave a somewhat dated play a modern feel. Mixed-media is of course extensively used in new writing productions (even with Shakespeare at the Royal Exchange for example) for but the application of it here was a master-stroke and Altrincham Little Theatre should be encouraged to experiment more with this kind of innovation.
The cast worked well as a team. Cherrill Wyche, Barbara Steel, Christine Perry and Janet Reidma all succeeding in bringing over the different foibles and quirks of their respective characters. Arthur Hulse was well cast as their authoritive leader and Georgina Daigleish seemed quite at home as the only young member of the gang. John Jones certainly looked the part of the old-school detective in a raincoat and though he was not quite as aggressive as might have been expected, perhaps this reflects an age when even the police were more deferential to wealthy individuals.
An interesting play, which in both writing style and subject covered reflects a very different time in British society. Altrincham Little Theatre did well in bringing over a different world, both in the physical presentation and pace of the production whilst at the same time not being afraid to add new ideas. A very creditable production.
Reviewer - John Waterhouse
on - 19/1/20