Little women rule supreme
PUBLISHED: 12:54 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 17:19 16 August 2010
THE story of four sisters lives in New England during the American Civil War was brought to life last week at the Erith Playhouse in a worthy production of
THE story of four sisters' lives in New England during the American Civil War was brought to life last week at the Erith Playhouse in a worthy production of Little Women directed by Samantha Langford, writes Mark Campbell.
Adapted by Peter Clapham from Louisa May Alcott's much-loved 1868 children's book, the play tells how the four March girls learn life lessons the hard way and develop into young women.
Meg (Elizabeth Vile) is vain, Jo (Amy Waters) is tomboyish, Beth (Amy East) is shy, and Amy (Jenny Thompson) rarely thinks of anyone but herself.
They are presided over by their mother Marmee (Caroline Hayes), while their father is away fighting in the Civil War.
Love interest is provided by the boy next door Laurie (James Turner) and his friend John (Richard Banks).
Fans of Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons would no doubt have adored the overwhelmingly sentimental nature of the piece, which is true to the original novel.
Others might have wished for a little more earthiness (and brevity) to the storytelling.
Either way, it was a very solid production with some excellent characterisations. The four March sisters were all superb, and it would be invidious to single out one actress over another.
Caroline Hayes played their ineffectual mother well, although her American accent did disappear at times.
John Sinclair was their absentee father, making an emotional appearance towards the end in true Railway Children-style.
As the wholesome 'boy next door' figure (who likes peering through the girls' windows at night!), James Turner was an extremely confident performer, as was Richard Banks, whose lengthy courtship of Meg was poignant and funny in equal measure.
In her best performance to date, Eileen Warner was convincingly monstrous as the witchy Aunt March, the only real 'villain' of the piece.
John Hyde was perfect as Laurie's lonely grandfather, and Christine Mabbott delightful as the family maid Hannah.
The excellent costumes were courtesy of Marjorie Sawyer and Carole Bramall, with Christine Angell providing a plethora of glamorous wigs.
The next production at the Erith Playhouse is Audacity by Simon Mawdsley from 12-17 May. Tickets: 01322 350345.