Swallow Theatre – Review - Moving On

Michelle Ellerington
Michelle Ellerington

Moving On is ‘One woman’s tale of love, life, laughter and living’ – written by Claire Charles and brought to the Swallow Theatre by Old Forge Productions for two nights on July 4th and 5th.

Michelle Ellerington is no stranger to audiences at The Swallow Theatre, as they have enjoyed her performances in ‘Shirley Valentine’, ‘Educating Rita’ and also as Susan in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, ‘Bed Among the Lentils.’

Moving On, unlike previous plays Old Forge has brought to the Swallow, is by a hitherto unknown writer, and as a result didn’t have the draw of previous productions. Reading the programme notes, we found that Claire Charles is in fact Michelle Ellerington. This is the first time she has not only written but performed a one woman show. Quite a challenge.

We have admired Michelle as director and actor. With Moving On, she has now made her mark very effectively as a writer. This one woman show was in turn amusing and moving.

The play started in a rather low key, light-hearted manner, as we saw Katherine looking back on her life and comparing real life with that of characters in TV soaps.

Two wooden chairs and a table provided the simple setting for conversations held with her elderly nana, her father, mother, friend Dick and others as Michelle switched chairs and characters accordingly.

As we were drawn into Katherine’s life story, carefully chosen music marked the passing time and helped to set the mood. The drama became increasingly powerful as we followed Katherine facing loss, feeling anger, accepting life’s lessons and moving on.

In the programme notes Michelle wrote ‘ … if there has been one point, statement or reflection within the play that you are able to relate to, then we have succeeded in our aim.’ Judging by comments from the audience as they left, there is little doubt that Michelle and Old Forge productions did indeed succeed and Claire Charles will be a name we recognise in future.

Next weekend at The Swallow, the familiar figure of Dominic Goodwin returns with ‘Blame it on the Kaiser!’ An entertainment with songs, comedy and poetry based on the Great War.