Best of Friends
Directed by Nick Fogarty
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Author: Don McKay
We received a warm welcome from the VAMPS Front of House Team, managed by Alison Hurst. The open stage consisted of a very simple set on two levels, which worked very well giving the piece depth and variety of movement. The cargo boxes on wheels were used ingeniously in every scene by simply turning them around or moving them into a different position. The use of double screen projection was a nice touch, although I am not sure all of the images were representative. Stage Manager Justin Driscoll and his crew carried out smooth scene changes with minimal interruption in pace. The Sound and Lighting by Dave and Kate Maltby was well designed but did have some late cues in both respects. However these issues were covered well by the cast and the provision of hand held microphones. The eclectic contemporary costumes by Kim Ulmer could have been from any decade of the last fifty years but served the purpose adequately.
Nick Fogarty’s direction was paced well and achieved seamless passages of time, however some of the characters lacked depth, and therefore it was difficult to feel empathy or sympathy for their situations. The scene where Gary gets shot needed better positioning and timing for it to work. I did however like the news casts which were timed perfectly
Wolfie Hammerbacker as Mike and Nick Fogarty, stepping in due to illness as Jim, were consistent throughout. There were some very good vocal performances from Sean Webb as Taylor, Emma Evans as Jodie and Caroline Watson as Natalie. Rowan Marshall, as bent copper Gary was more manic than threatening. If this was the intention then Rowan did a good job, however I would have preferred the latter. Keith Jenkinson, Matt Shaw and Peta Riley gave good characterisations as Victor, Mark and Lilly. The Chorus were animated but seemed to be under rehearsed.
This production had some really good songs in it, and when performed well were worth the ticket price alone. VAMPS who are never afraid to challenge themselves were very brave to take on an unknown piece of work, but need to focus more on the telling of the story through believable acting, as well as vocal performances.