Double act wins plaudits

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The Swallow Theatre is attracting audiences from further and further afield as it continues to stage a programme of excellent dramatic and musical events.

The latest event, staged by Old Forge Productions, was of two well-known Alan Bennett “Talking Heads” plays – A Chip in the Sugar and Love Among the Lentils.

Old Forge Productions are building up quite a following locally, having brought excellent productions of Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita to the region in previous years. As this indicates, they are not afraid of tackling the well known. On each occasion Michelle Ellerington has played a very convincing starring role.

A warm and appreciative audience were drawn into her peformance as Susan, the vicar’s wife in Love Among the Lentils, as she led us through the tale of the alcoholic wife trying to cope with her insensitive husband and his super-efficient, fussing, flower-arranging fan club. Switching from the extremes of tear-generating humour to heart-breaking sadness, she mastered Bennett’s script brilliantly.

Andy Pontin, in the challenging role of Graham in A Chip in the Sugar, had the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of the master himself, but in his peformance we saw and heard the Bennett character very convincingly portrayed. A middle-aged man with mental health problems, who is living with his mother, he has his life turned upside down when an old flame of hers enters their lives. Switching ably from the familiar Leeds accent to those of other characters in the tale, it was a suprise to note that this was Andy’s professional debut.

Carefully selected extracts of music linked the scenes of both plays, supporting the ever changing moods.

Old Forge Productions specialise in providing small cast touring productions and the intimate venue of The Swallow is a perfect show case for their work.

Another Swallow regular returns later this month – Dominic Goodwin. With three nights of Radio Fun, he is guaranteed to bring more warmth to the summer.