Reviewed by Nigel Chester
The Litchfield Garrick is a fantastic theatre in the heart of the town of Litchfield, or as we were so often reminded during the play Away in a Danger, Litchfield is a City.
Away In A Danger is an original play by Craig Stephens and Jack Trow. Brought to the studio of the Garrick by the director Sean Turner and Production manager Pete Orton-Brown.
The play is fast and funny, it is really entertaining, lots of plot twists and mayhem. A grown up pantomime. Topical jokes, some political, some Christmas and some just funny, we soon worked out who owned a Volvo in the audience. The Russians visiting Litchfield Cathedral, ‘It has three Spires’ was pure genius. The clever script and word play built during the evening with the likes of the Russians (Beth Lilly and Dannie Harris who took on multiple roles) came from Belarus, Minsk to be more precise, they were spies from Minsk. No Christmas event would be complete without a mince pie.
Featuring a cast of four, James Steventon is Barry the choir master who on discovering the body of the pianist Gladys, has to go on the run, in rural Staffordshire. Where he meets with various challenges from trying to stay awake whilst helping shepherds count sheep to negotiating the East Midlands Rail. Stevenson is the only cast member to have one unique role and it’s his story.
Lucy Pearson is the determined police woman in charge of bringing Barry to justice in the role as Beth Lehem, she also takes part of her own twin sister Steph. This proves interesting when the two girls are in the room together and in a fierce argument.
Since we were last in the Studio of the Garrick, it has undergone a complete refurbishment and is more cinema than lecture theatre now. This intimate space made the play feel cosy and friendly, there were no physical barriers between audience and the stage. And we were chatted to. This felt quite unique and I really did like it, it brought you into the story not just a casual observer.
The staging was simple and really revolved round the piano which took on as many disguises as the actors. It was a bar a station a car and even a bike. But its pinnacle was as Litchfield Cathedral with Barry trying not to fall from a great height. The program gives a big thank you to Jamie Beizsley for his carpentry work Raphael Design. The piano could be making a Hollywood debut as a transformer, it was as amazing as it was simple.
For such a fast paced and comic play there was a surprising amount of story development and the plot moved and built and made sense in a radicicolous way. It made me think of Roald Dahl in both roles as children’s author and The Tales of the Unexpected.
As an audience it would have been nice to be able to show our appreciation by a little more clapping. Stevenson deserved applause for his soliloquy regarding the police chase!
Coming away from the theatre and taking the brief walk to the, free after six thirty, carpark I heard a couple saying ‘wow, they worked SO hard’ and I would totally agree with that, it was physical and the amount of lines to be learned, would put the most seasoned actor into a spin. They did indeed work hard for our enjoyment and enjoy it we did.
Tickets cost from £20 to £24 (booking fees may apply).
Christmas Carol Casebook: Away in a Danger is at the Lichfield Garrick from 5 December 2019 to 4 January 2020 (not every night), for more information or to book tickets visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre, Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR | 01543 412121