Live Theatre Comes to Kentmere by Sheila Hirst

Photo credit: Matt Jamie

With many thanks to “Highlights”, who sponsor and assist those who wish to lure live theatre off the beaten track, Janet Plater’s Haddock and Chips came to the Kentmere Institute on Saturday 6th November.

The brilliant stage crew of Corrie and Kirsten arrived at lunchtime and soon had a remarkably solid and convincing chip shop interior stage-lit at one end while the home team set out the auditorium at the other. Come 7.30pm, Joe Caffrey and Philippa Wilson, two richly experienced Geordie actors, took it from there, entrancing a packed local audience of sixty folk, mainly from Kentmere, but some from as far away as Staveley and Kendal…

It was a wonderfully warm and engaging show as Philippa and Joe established their baseline characters as Brenda and Bob, the North Shields chip shop staff, but also took turns to exit stage right, quick costume change, and enter stage left as one of the many customers. Although there is a bit of a plot about a lost or runaway ten-year-old child and snippets of information that emerge from chip shop chat to help the police with their enquiries, the heart and appeal of the evening is in the beautifully nuanced, touching, funny and deft portrayal of a full range of a community’s characters by two very skilful but always warmly human and charismatic actors. The audience was noisily appreciative of some perfectly pitched stage comedy and nostalgic dance routines, and quietly moved by moments of tender pathos.

All ended well both on and off stage, and as enjoyable as their show had been, the cast and crew themselves were every bit as warm and entertaining as visitors to the valley before setting off the next morning for Wetheral.

Many, many thanks to all involved, outside agencies and the home team alike, for such a successful evening.

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