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Stand and Deliver, The Mitre – Review

Wayne Gumble
Directed by Catherine Arekalian

Pros: Bundles of energy and enthusiasm, audience participation and a top selection of cheesy 80’s tracks make this an enjoyable and entertaining show.

Cons: Being performed in an empty shopfront provided challenges for the direction and the flow of action is not as tight as it could be. Some of the performances are weak, probably due to casting issues on the day. The band is too loud for the actors’ voices at times as there are no sound facilities at this particular venue.

Our Verdict: There is work to do on this production – the staging and flow of the action needs to be tightened up and some of the performances need strengthening, however it is entertaining and enjoyable.

Credit: No Fear of Thalia
Saturday afternoon in an empty shopfront on Upper Street, Islington is an unlikely venue for a musical. Part of the Oxjam Festival, Stand and Deliver gives an admirable account of itself in this tiny pop up venue. Impressively, it included a well stocked bar and a friendly welcome from the writer/producer, Wayne Gumble. The show is still in production and experienced some unforeseen issues with the cast on the day so this needs to be taken into account when writing this review as it was not a finished product. Despite the venue limitations and the weaker performances, it succeeded in being entertaining and in putting a smile on my face.

The plot is made up of several strands of humorous circumstances which seem unrelated yet intertwine to provide the comedy, sewn together with commentary from TV presenters. It’s a cheesy tale of one man’s attempt to rescue his non league, local football team from the clutches of an evil developer as well as his desire to be a 18th century highwayman. He is full of reminiscences of the 80’s, assisted by a football publication with magical powers. There is a lot of interest and action, which at times is difficult to follow, as there is little in the way of staging and lighting at this venue, making the scene changes undefined. The action doesn’t flow as easily as it should and there is some work to do on the comic timing, which I’m sure will come with further development. The characters are well written and purposeful, bringing lots of colour and contrast to the show. The performances on the whole are fun and enthusiastic and the cast work hard at engaging the audience and encouraging participation. There are some weaker performances, probably due to the casting problems on the day so I won’t dwell on them. They are compensated for by the exuberant lead roles.

The real win in my eyes is the fantastic, highly entertaining and very appropriate use of classic 80’s tunes to punctuate the show. The cast really get stuck in and sing their hearts out, encouraging the audience to join in and sing along. They are supported by a live backing band and the energy really escalates. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, despite the fact the band were a little loud for the voices without microphones at this particular venue. There are also various film clips being projected (onto the ceiling at this performance) cleverly adding atmosphere and supporting the storyline.

This show, with the cheesy 80’s tunes, football interest and time travel, is bound to appeal to a wide audience. It does needs tightening up in the stage direction, timing and acting performances. However, with further development and lots of stage specific rehearsal supported by theatrical sound and lighting, it has great potential to be a fun and entertaining theatre experience.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Stand and Deliver was performed as part of the Oxjam Festival on 19th October 2013.

For details of future shows call 07751 809271 or look on line at www.standanddelivermusical.com.

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