WHEN the audience arrived at the Swallow Theatre for the recent production of ‘Passing Through’, they were rather surprised and bemused to find not he usual raked seating, but soft lighting and café tables with assorted and curious items on them.
The play, a romantic comedy by Alistair Rutherford and presented by Peapod Productions, was set in a café-bar on a wet winter’s night. The audience were invited to contribute to the action in various ways - voicing sound effects, reading the occasional line, pretending to be swing doors, drenching one of the cast with water and flinging beer mats at the other. But this was by no means just an evening of slapstick with audience participation. It was a well-crafted piece of writing, full of witty and humorous lines, including some local references. Tommy (played by Philip Kingscott) is an aspiring young magician who’s just been thrown out of the Dockers Social Club, and Alice (played by Kirsty Halliday) stomps in from the rain having been stood up by her boy friend. As the play develops we learn more about Alice’s boyfriend (very keen on cars and science fiction) and also Tommy’s girlfriend and rather irresponsible assistant in his magician’s act. All four parts were skilfully played by the two actors, each having to switch characters in a moment - a challenge for any actor. Direction (by Andy Corelli) managed to deftly combine a non-naturalistic presentation (there was no illusion that we were not being performed to) with a story that engaged the audience – would the couple eventually fall in love ? This was an unusual and enjoyable evening, a good beginning to the new season at the Swallow Theatre. The next event is on April 20 – musician and singer Pete Coe.