For many theatremakers, in the making, the two theatres at the Tap Gallery run by the inimitable Lesley Dimmick is their main chance to get their work up…to finally get to see their script up out of their heads and onto a stage and in front of a live audience.
Flamboyant Tap Gallery boss, Lesley Dimmock, runs her two theatre spaces very democratically….there is no selection process…if you can raise the funds to hire the venue- the rates are reasonable- and there is a theatre available…then the space is yours for the duration of your booking.
Kathy Petrakis, a writer in a number of different genres, has taken up the opportunity that the Tap Gallery affords, and has her first full length play Black Rainbow currently playing for a brief, week long season.
I caught the opening performance, with all the excitement and nerves that such an event generates. Friends and family in the audience could be seen hanging off very word emanating from the actors mouths. For a while into the play, some members were clapping at the end of each scene. Now that is enthusiasm…
A couple of actors had to pull out late in the rehearsal period which meant that the two replacement actors worked on stage with script in hand…a very tough call for everyone involved!
Opening night revealed a promising play that is still at a very early stage in development, and requires a lot more work before it is up to a satisfying standard.
The premise is a good one for a powerful drama…a teenage boy leads a terrible double life… during the day he leads a normal life as a schoolboy…at night he lives in a drug and small crim household after having been abandoned by his own family and left on the street…He manages his double life until he falls in love with a fellow student, the daughter of a well known public prosecutor, and then things pretty quickly unravel.
As the play stands at the moment it has way too much the feel of a melodrama. Even loyal audience members were twisting a little uncomfortably in their seats.
The piece was too long- running about two an a half hours- and needed considerable trimming.
There are details in the play that are plainly inaccurate and audiences will be quick to pick these up and switch off from the action. One example…Public defenders do not interrogate suspects…police do!
As one sees in many debut productions, Petrakis has chosen to direct the work herself. It is hardly ever a great idea. It is better to get another pair of eyes to direct, someone who is not so close to the material. The production suffers from this decision.
Two of the cast, William Jordan as Mr Novak and Ursula Dauenhauer as Candy, deliver performances that needed to be pulled back, but lacked appropriate direction.
The best note struck in the production was two poignant affecting performances by the young leads. Louis Emerson-Chase as Andy/Ahmed gave a strong performances and was assured in delivering some angst ridden monologues to the audience.
Melody Ha as his girlfriend Sarah showed a good stage presence and there was a pleasing chemistry between the two leads.
Sam Smith gave a nicely judged performance as young hood Tarek, especially as he came in at the eleventh hour!
The set was sparse/no frills but adequate, featuring the two living rooms; the hoods and the Public Defenders.
Summing up, I hope that Kathy and her team get some good audiences coming in this week to see their show. The biggest journey is over, from page to stage. This week it’s learning time for the team, with each performance before an audience…
BLACK RAINBOW plays the upstairs theatre at the Tap Gallery until Saturday 23rd August.