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“Happy Jack”

A beautifully written piece, concerning the lives of Liz and Jack, a miner and his wife, covering their lives, with anecdotes acted out as illustrations of how they rubbed along together.  I didn’t like it as much as September in the Rain, but the two characters came to life again and we got an insight into what was essentially an ordinary couple, and certain scenarios resonated with life today, as well as in the last century.

I wasn’t keen on the set, it was a little stark, and did not give me the warmth I was expecting from a small house, that said, the moving of the chairs to different areas of the stage for different scenes was accomplished well.  I know Liz was supposed to be extremely house proud, but even so, I needed to feel a little of the warmth she would undoubtedly have wrapped around her family.

The projections into the varying photo frames above the fireplace were excellent, and gave us an added dimension to the meaning of the words.  Lighting was also particularly good, and using the projections combined with lighting, as for the church scene and the sunset in Whitley Bay, was very effective.  

Joe Butcher as Jack and Jenna Ryder-Oliver as Liz gave us the lovely rounded characters we saw in the previous play, with all their foibles, both good and bad.

I loved the scene where Liz was having their son Ian, and Jack was outside in the corridor writing a poem about the mines, the way the two scenarios interlaced made for a very touching scene.

The choice of music was also excellent, which always adds to the feeling of a play.  The references to Mario Lanza and John Hanson also evoked memories for me, and conjured up snapshots from my past, which I enjoyed.

The cinema scene was also well contrived, from the threading along the rows to actually sitting watching the film – Jack’s laugh was very infectious, and the projection of the projector made it come alive.

I was a little disconcerted at first with the form of the play, i.e. the cast giving the introduction and interspersing script notes along the way, but once I got used to the way it played out it made sense.

All in all a very enjoyable play, executed very well by two accomplished actors.

Dunstable Rep


review date: 15th May 2018

Little Theatre, Dunstable

Director:  Angela Goss


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