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Troublehouse Theatre in Manchester

November 28, 2014

Theatre | by Maxine Kirsty Sapsford


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Time Of My Life, troublehouse Theatre, Image Robert Cattell

 

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Time Of My Life, troublehouse Theatre, Image Robert Cattell

Northern based theatre company troublehouse gave us their second offering of the year in the form of Alan Ayckbourn’s classic ‘Time Of My Life’. A five show run at the Great Northern Playhouse, a pop-up theatre in Manchester, gave director Barry Evans’s seven strong cast the chance to showcase their talents. He commented that in his second time directing the 1992 based piece, “the subtext of the play is even more relevant now than it has ever been”, and there were definite parallels to be drawn from an audience perspective between then and the present day.

 

The space is an unusual one – it being a temporary performance venue means that the stage and surrounding area is fashioned by curtains held up by rigging, exposing open bricks and ongoing carpentry work in the lobby/bar around it, creating an industrial feel. This is in keeping with the origins of the section of Manchester that the location is in and also made the ambience relaxed, as opposed to stuffy and uptight as can be the case with older, more traditional theatres.
Northern based theatre company troublehouse gave us their second offering of the year in the form of Alan Ayckbourn’s classic ‘Time Of My Life’. A five show run at the Great Northern Playhouse, a pop-up theatre in Manchester, gave director Barry Evans’s seven strong cast the chance to showcase their talents. He commented that in his second time directing the 1992 based piece, “the subtext of the play is even more relevant now than it has ever been”, and there were definite parallels to be drawn from an audience perspective between then and the present day.

 

The play began with the entire cast sat around a dinner table, frantically talking whilst erratic music played in the background. After a short amount of time the music died and the action began. The audience were made aware that this was Laura Stratton’s (Hilly Barber) 49th birthday party, held at a family favourite restaurant surrounded by her sons Glyn (Rick Bithell) and Adam (Barney Cooper), their partners Stephanie (Elinor Dixon) and Maureen (Amey Woodhall), and her husband Gerry (Ben Rigby).

 

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Time Of My Life, troublehouse Theatre, Image Robert Cattell

The play touches upon common difficulties within families – introducing new partners, sibling rivalry, marriage problems, financial troubles – and the actors all had a great knack for tackling such issues whilst still keeping the overall impression of the performance (for the most part) light hearted and comical. With reference to the latter, a particular mention needs to go to Eddie Capli, who successfully managed to bring five different characters to life with the aid of minor costume and hair adaptations. From a camp waiter who had a habit of singing at inappropriate times, to the drunken old owner of the restaurant, his mannerisms and timing were first class and induced several bursts of laughter from the crowd.

 

Scene transitions were smooth and efficient, whilst costumes and set were kept fairly simplistic so as to keep the focus on the action. Aided by a witty script, the strong cast worked together to produce some funny and poignant scenes that demonstrated their good chemistry and onstage relationships, and the amount of effort that has clearly been put into bringing Ayckbourn’s ‘Time Of My Life’ to the stage.

 

For such a fledgling theatre company – troublehouse was founded in summer 2014 by Heather Carroll and Rick Bithell – to be producing such a high standard of performance is testament of what is to come in the future from this Northern team, who have already been nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Manchester Fringe Festival.

 

For future productions go to www.troublehousetheatre.co.uk

 

Sophia Miles

 

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Time Of My Life, troublehouse Theatre, Image Robert Cattell