A visit to the Maddermarket Theatre is a delight I have not managed enough in recent years. This hidden away gem of a theatre contains one of the more intimate and friendly Norwich stages.
Baroque Theatre Company are a Norwich based group who are half way through a nationwide tour with their all woman Comedy Triple Bill. The first and last acts tell us about the exploits and adventures of the Little Grimley amateur dramatic society. These two plays have been adapted from the original scripts written by David Tristram to suit the four strong female cast.
The middle slot ‘A Jolly Sinister Little Jape’ is a pastiche of twenties whodunnit productions performed by the Little Grimley characters.
A Saturday matinee that clashes with the Lord Mayor’s celebration weekend in Norwich is a tough choice to fill a venue on a warm day and we were a meagre but polite crowd.
The humour running throughout the triplet was a rather familiar theme of actors acting out the minor dramas of actors acting in amateur dramatics. This theme was a bit too close for comfort at the start, as we were kept waiting nearly twenty five minutes while an unspecified technical fault was addressed. To proceed on to quips about tiny audiences and technical faults in the theatre seemed a tad brave in the circumstances.
However the four performers are all polished in their execution and enthusiastic and well-timed in their delivery.
The cast features Baroque Theatre Company founder and actress Claire Bibby from Kent, Plymouth born Patricia Derrick, Talitha Willsea from Norwich and Hampshire born Sally Blouet who makes her Baroque Theatre Company debut.
As the three segments developed the enthusiasm and humour of the works became infectious, with clever interaction between well defined characters. In spite of the on-stage promise of the amateurs to liven up their audiences with a bit of sex and nudity these are performances that are safe and unthreatening and would doubtless be billed in many venues as ‘suitable for a family audience’. My personal view is that the considerable skills of this company deserve rather more challenging material, but this show will pass a couple of hours pleasantly by.
Their Artistic Director Adam Morley has added cleverly timed technical trickery to the skills of the cast to keep the show’s breathless pace going, as they canter through the full range of potential disasters in local theatre productions. We stay firmly rooted in middle class Home Counties England in these comedies of manners, looking at the dynamics of how a small group of people bounce off each other.
©Julian Swainson 2017