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Review: Every Time a Bell Rings, streamed online

In such uncertain times we look for a diversion from reality, and this wonderfully inventive show, directed by Christopher Smart, hits the spot perfectly. Mangled Yarn Theatre Company took the bold leap of devising a prequel to arguably the greatest Christmas film ever made; It’s a Wonderful Life. They then relocated the action from Bedford Falls in the American Mid-West to Bedford in good old Bedfordshire. So the premise revolves around trainee angel Clarence Odbody and his 200 year quest to earn his wings. What if the powers-that-be decided to send him to Angel School in Bedford? How would…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Invoking the spirit of a Christmas classic this production prevails in spite of Covid 19 with a tale to warm the heart.

User Rating: 3.16 ( 4 votes)

In such uncertain times we look for a diversion from reality, and this wonderfully inventive show, directed by Christopher Smart, hits the spot perfectly. Mangled Yarn Theatre Company took the bold leap of devising a prequel to arguably the greatest Christmas film ever made; It’s a Wonderful Life. They then relocated the action from Bedford Falls in the American Mid-West to Bedford in good old Bedfordshire. So the premise revolves around trainee angel Clarence Odbody and his 200 year quest to earn his wings. What if the powers-that-be decided to send him to Angel School in Bedford? How would he cope with some very traditional English fully qualified angels?

What they deliver is a brilliantly inventive and varied show featuring film, songs, poetry, sketches and a 20-minute pantomime. As you’d expect, the panto is jammed packed with topical references and heaven knows they have got plenty of scope! The narrative is poignant, funny and deeply thought provoking. It draws inspiration from stories within the local Bedford community that chime (see what I did there?) perfectly with the festive season. Particularly moving is the story of the Anzio Bell and brutal combat that took place in the Italian fishing port during World War II. Company 248 of the Royal Engineers, who were based in Bedfond, fought at Anzio. The show deserves immense credit for portraying the company’s story which will hitherto be unknown to many viewers.

Every Time a Bell Rings is a thoroughly enjoyable show made all the more impressive by the challenge of physically staging the production. Mangled Yarn had planned to run the show before a socially distanced audience in addition to an online stream. However, they managed only one performance before Bedford entered Tier 4 restrictions. Undaunted they got the performance filmed for an on-demand stream.  Please catch it if you’re able to; this is the very essence of fringe theatre and proof that miracles do happen at Christmas!

Directed by: Christopher Smart
Produced by: Mangled Yarn Theatre

Every Time A Bell Rings is available to stream until 31 January. Tickets are £10 (individual) and £15 (group).

About Brian Penn

Brian Penn
Civil Servant. Brian flirted with drama at school but artistic differences forced a painful separation. At least he knows what his motivation is. Now occupying a safe position in the audience he enjoys all kinds of theatre. He was bitten by the theatrical bug after watching a production of Tommy in his teens. Other passions include films, TV and classic rhythm and blues. He also finds time for quizzes, football and squash. A keen sports fan, his enthusiasm crashes to a halt whenever anyone mentions golf. A musical based on the life of Tiger Woods could be his greatest challenge.