This Pollyanna will definitely leave you feeling glad all over. It may be the central theme of the novel of the same name by Eleanor H. Porter, but this production excels at everything it does.
The characterisations are superb. Pollyanna is obviously central to the plot and Tamsin Kerslake rises to the occasion with an appealing performance in the title role and she has the abilities of the young Bonnie Langford without the annoying bits.
The four women who play the self-appointed moral guardians get every ounce out of their parts with expressive faces and slick ensemble work. The drunken vicar is very credible with a deliberate stumble executed perfectly.
The butler and the maid set the standard by establishing their parts especially Mr Caruthers. His ‘lurch’ was really amusing and he kept it up even into the wings. Maybe by the end Pollyanna could have helped him develop a new walk to enhance the initial humour.
Pollyanna transforms nearly all of the residents of the village including her strict aunt into happy people before the end. The Doctor and the Aunt get ‘together’ somewhat rapidly which is partly to do with the constraints of a 90-minute musical, but they handle their parts with typical Victorian restraint.
The movement of the cast and the direction was of the highest order and the use of the stage helpers (from another planet?) to change scenes was really well done in a venue that has its staging limitations. The explosion at the orphanage was a bit underplayed, but this was due to a technical problem that can be sorted out.
The show has a darker side with the family running the orphanage as the ‘baddies’ and the husband and wife were almost in the mould of the beadle and partner in ‘Oliver’ The husband had a look of Bruce Forsyth on a bad day, but that's not a comment on his performance!
Pollyanna has good music with a number of catchy songs by Geoff Page, and lyrics by Frances Bertram. Add in a good cast, with clever movement, and the whole package well directed, and you have a show well worth watching.
Show times: Runs til 26 August
Tickets: £5.50 - £8.50