Chalet Lines, Bush Theatre 7 April

**

A picture I swiped from twitpic

So the important question is: five actresses giving us their Newcastle accents, who came off best?  Well four of them I didn’t believe at all, while I was prepared to give Sian Breckin (from Leeds) the benefit of the doubt.  You might say that Monica Dolan (from Middlesbrough) should have had it easy, but that just shows how little you know.

Anyway, the play follows the lives of the womenfolk of a Newcastle family in reverse chronological order as they assemble at Butlins in connection with significant life events.  And the first scene–set in the present day–was very successful, with a series of successful jokes:

–Men’s minds, you don’t want to go there.  It’s all porn and sheds.

–I was trying to explain to the lass on the phone, it was no use, she was from Poland or Russia or somewhere. They should have got someone northern.

After that, as we journeyed into the past to see how things had ended up the way they had, I got very bored at what seemed like acres of featureless feminist diatribe. Loretta (Monica Dolan) was supposed to be drunken and emotional but didn’t manage to suggest either drunkenness or impulsive mood swings.  Abigail the shy daughter (played by Laura Elphinstone) managed to come off as a poor actress waving her arms about rather than a shy daughter–I think the direction may have been at fault here.

I ended up being distracted into trying to work out how old the characters were meant to be at various times, and also by the way the doubling of roles meant the actresses with the less pronounced accents played a couple of characters from the more distant past, thus implying that regional accents were less rather than more pronounced in the past.

I can’t fault Loretta’s advice to Abigail on how to put a condom on your partner though:  clear, concise and accurate, if also a little out of place…

SPOILER ALERT!

While it seems to be Loretta who causes all the mischief, we never find out why she is the way she is.  There’s no indication that she realises her father is not her father.  When she was forcing Abigail into a not-very-concealing dress before making her go on a date with a couple of redcoats because that’s what lasses do, I did wonder whether this was advertising for the hijab shop across Uxbridge Road from the theatre.  Even if it wasn’t, you could see their point.

Secret sponsors maybe?

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