15 03 2010

Review by Christine Irvine
Blackeyed Theatre in association with South HillPark Arts Centre  Friday 12 March 2010

Thrown together in only two weeks, Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Alfie is every inch as energetic and colourful as its infamous protagonist, with a cast just as capable of multi-tasking.

Edward Elks takes the role of the cockney lothario and, happily, is spot-on throughout, utterly nailing Alfie’s tenuous combination of charm and unadulterated self-centeredness. By the end of the performance you’ll wonder why on earth you don’t totally detest him—but it’s a tribute not only to Bill Naughton’s original writing, but also Elks’ effortlessly potent performance, that you never do. Put simply, if you go in expecting Michael Caine, you won’t be disappointed—Elks is better.

In Alfie’s world, the supporting characters really are bit-part players— but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Gabrielle Meadows and Lisa Howard shine as Alfie’s merry-go-round of conquests (nine roles altogether!) imbuing every one of them with individual personality and vigour that, unfortunately, our free-living ‘Don Juan’ utterly fails to notice. For comedy value, watch out especially for Flo the canteen lady busking her way through to the end of the interval (“Alfie’s been detained… amazing what you can fit into fifteen minutes…”).

But it isn’t just the cast: the whole production crackles with style. A special mention has to go to Ian McDougall’s rollicking soundtrack (ably performed live by the spare cast members whenever they don’t have any lines to say) which is the perfect accompaniment to Alfie’s care-free attitude and pulls us effortlessly scene to scene, refusing to let even the most poignant moments ‘put the block on’.

However, don’t for a minute think this is a show that won’t linger. I took my mum as a Mother’s Day pressie and she’s still raving about it, and that’s a recommendation if ever there was one.

As I write, there’s still fifteen dates available— so all I can say is buy a ticket, go and see it, “leave your worries at the door and enjoy the banter”. Altogether, a fab night out.




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