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2nd-4th August 2018

Take Me or Leave Me – But You Will Be Happy To See Me!

Debbie Cavanagh took a risk when directing Rent at Luton Library Theatre with the Griffin Players. It is an ambitious show to recreate. It has a timely feel to it, and performed on Pride Weekend which made it all the more poignant. Rent highlights multiple factors:- living in the shadow of AIDS, transvestites, alcoholics, drug addicts, poverty, loneliness and above all hunger. Hunger to get up and out when you are on your knees. It is not a new story but one that has to ensure that the audience are comfortable in the uncomfortable and that responsibility lies solely with the cast.

Joshua Thompson alongside his camera, makes for a very good Mark. He sets the scene with his iconic opening line and remained in accent flawlessly. His singing ability shows depth – being able to express light and shade easily. Mark is in the position of having seen everything from the outside. He knows everyone's perspectives and Thompson's ability to relate to the fourth wall makes for strong viewing, indeed. In the role of Joanne was Aimee McCulloch, and paired with Mark for 'Tango Maureen', was divine to watch. McCulloch retains the rare ability to stay in character without dropping a note, or a beat.

Marc Rolfe as Roger, perhaps his most meaty role to date, fleshed out his part adeptly and thoroughly. He soared through One Song Glory with aplomb. Rolfe is a safe pair of hands; the aptitude to undertake a role and pour his soul into it. Coupled with Roger was Katie Alys Barton as Mimi, a demanding role, physically, vocally and choreographically. Excellent interplay during 'Light my Candle', a mixture of confidence and seductive. The stand out song of the night was 'Out Tonight', laden with emotion and fire, Barton excelled herself.

Luke Murphy as Angel came into his own. Angel is very much a 'little girl' figure who wants hers and everyone around her, dreams to come true. She is innocently naïve and Murphy found his place in her life and portrayed her with dignity and integrity. John O'Leary bought warmth and wisdom to his role of Tom, displaying in equal measure his love for Angel in the aftermath of his mugging and his breaking heart when Angel ascends to her higher calling which resonated long after the curtain fell. Eleanor Turton as Maureen showed her hectic and vulnerable character with ease, a quality that is impressive for an amateur actress.

The ensemble were pivotal to this production; Nico Bamford, Chloe Badham, Josh Smyth, Melanie Ramsey and Katy Elliott all delivering cohesive performances. As a side note it should be mentioned that multiple roles of cast and crew were undertaken, Badham as Choreographer should be highlighted; Ramsey is always a pleasure to watch and Smyth's falsetto could perhaps be regarded as in the Frankie Valli stakes. More than a passing nod should be directed at MD James Driver, together with the band who excelled in producing the sound particularly with reference to the harmonies.

A salient note to realise is that this is an amateur dramatic group. I very much look forward to seeing what is performed next and have no doubt that this is a collective that will go from strength to strength.

Kay can often be found frequenting the bright lights and golden-paved streets of London, having always had a love of theatre. She particularly enjoys the musicals, ranging from Phantom of the Opera to Jersey Boys, to plays such as No Man's Land.  She is lucky enough to have been able to see a wide range of shows and looks forward to being able to further immerse herself in all the West End has to offer.  Kay is a deep thinker with an honest and very real passion for writing and is particularly excited to be a part of the team so she can share her enthusiasm and views with you all on London Theatre Direct. You can also find her on Instagram.