Critical Review by John Malyckyj
The Athelston Players Carnival Review 2014 provided a wonderfully entertaining old fashioned variety performance which took the audience ‘Around The World’ in two hours of songs, dance routines and comedy sketches. Act One took us from Europe into Africa by way of England, France Holland Siberia, Turkey and Greece. Our first glimpse of our own James White came in a rendition of a song from Horrible Histories as he led a run-down of monarchs through the ages. Moments later he was prancing around as a Morris Dancer as the director borrowed a song from The Two Ronnies laced with innuendo.
A lively Can-Can dance took us in to France and a sketch from an episode of ‘Allo, Allo’. It was very well played by the actors and although the jokes were familiar it didn’t stop the audience from laughing either at the shocking French accent of René (played by guess who) or anticipating all the well know catch phrases from the much loved show. The junior section of the cast gave a delightful performance of Hans Christian Anderson and the Ugly Duckling to melt the hearts of even the hardest cynic in the house.
By now each section of the show was linked by the appearance of two female members of the cast trying to launch in to Abba songs only too be shooed off the stage by the MC, the audience quickly picked up this running joke and cheering the ladies wildly each time they appeared and booing as they left the stage! A trip to ‘Sweet Siberia’ lowered the mood which took us into the standout vocal performance of the night from young Amy McKechnie with ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ which was spine tingling in its’ delivery. Act one closed with the ‘What Have The Romans Done For Us’ sketch from Monty Python which was hugely enjoyable and slick in delivery.
The second half took us from Asia to Australia to the Americas with some excellent song and dance routines, with the audience joining in with “Meet the Gang”, whether the cast liked it or not! Suddenly, there she was….or rather he….Malmesbury’s answer to Dana International and Barry Humphries on stage in purple wig and bright blue skirt as James White brought the house down with a cameo performance of Dame Edna Everage with a suitably glum looking Madge Allsop the butt of many of the jokes. White warbled his way through Waltzing Matilda leading the audience in the chorus, your correspondent shuffled in his chair nervously wondering what he was going to do with the gladiolas as Edna left the stage and why it was that he was beginning to quite fancy this female vision…..
‘Abba’ aided and abetted by the audience finally got their opportunity to sing more than one line from their heroes songs as they performed ‘Fernando’ and this little gem took us into one of the highlights of the evening as the junior section took to the stage again. The MC explained that children don’t know how to skip so they’d had to teach them for the display that accompanied Malcom McClaren’s ‘Double Dutch’, the sheer exuberance and joy of the youngsters taking their turn to show off their new found skills was a sight to behold. The show closed with a medley of songs from the USA and an encore of ‘Dancing in the Streets’ gave the entire cast a richly deserved ovation from the appreciative audience.