Back to reviews


TADS        “CALAMITY JONNY: FIRING BLANKS”         30/1/15

TADS Theatre, Toddington   Written & Directed by Lea Pryer         

Lea Pryer, who wrote the original script and adapted it for the adult version, did a good job – it was funny and naughty, but didn’t go too far over the top!

I would have liked to have had more music to start with as the opening was a little downbeat – it needed something to liven it up, and music was missing until practically the end of Act 1 – which was a shame.

The set was suitable for the story, and I particularly liked the lighting effect from Paul Horsler during the Golden Gun number, whilst sound effects from Josh Halsey for the money changing hands and the spitting were very good.

Mostly the costumes were colourful and looked fine for their parts.  Ima’s dress was very suitable for the character, and Bill Boon’s fat suit was a hoot!

There were some recognisable western tunes, but the thing TADS is lacking is someone to pull the musical side of a panto together.

Rachel Price reprised her role as Calamity Jonny, again with loads of energy and innuendo, and some good repartee with the audience.  Rachel’s projection was excellent, we heard everything she had to say.

Judy Palmer, as Gerald the upper class English talking horse was great fun – and gave us some wry comments on the characters!  Unfortunately, because of the costume some of the words were a little muffled, which was a shame.  However I liked the addition to the costume, and the ‘divining rod’ scene was very funny.

Nadia McMahon-Wilson’s played Anita the gun-toting Sheriff’s daughter, she gave us a good portrayal.  I liked her makeover – very apt.

Rory White always gives us a good character study, he played Wayne and also the camp Brian Boon – two contrasting performances.

Dave Corbett seemed to have settled more into his role as Dame! – although his interaction with the audience was patchy - they were very vociferous. I thought he was very brave to get the person he did on the stage for the song – so well done!

Steven Pryer gave us the great baddy, Bill Boon, with lots of evil humour – his other brothers Bert played by Judy Palmer and Benny played by Michelle Chamberlain were both suitably disgusting.

Malcolm Stevens was the down-trodden Mayor – dominated by his wife (Michelle Chamberlain) and daughter Emily Venn – who certainly looked the part and played up to Jonny and Wayne very well.

Louis Varty as the Sheriff, needed to slow his dialogue a bit, but he played the part nicely.

Kevin Birkett played the undertaker Phil, a part that suited him down to the ground.  I loved his very sad expressions and the continual measuring of potential customers!

The three pregnant saloon girls played by Sophie Venn, Janet Bray and Gemma Ferguson, really got into the swing of things, and helped the action along.

The finale was rousing, and we were all joining in.  I think the whole production lacked a little pace and purpose, and music to help it along, but the concept and script were good.

The audience certainly had a good time, lots of hilarious moments and belly laughs, and the chance to heckle!



TADS Theatre, Toddington

review date 30th Jan 2015

Writer & Director: Lea Pryer


Back to reviews