Review: Newport Playgoers’ Duets, Dolman Theatre, Newport

Duets, the current Newport Playgoers production is a bit of a toughie to review, if only for the fact that it seems unjust to attempt to give four excellent comedy two-handers the same space usually afforded to one show.

But as the audience watched the show’s opening night on Wednesday evening, it became apparent by the laughter levels that there was four times as much fun as most productions can usually afford.

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Peter Quillet’s linking theme analysing love and relationships reveals appearances can frequently be deceptive. The four scenarios highlighted include responding to the advert of a prospective beau in a lonely hearts column, attending the needs of a flamboyant employer who is trying to defy the aging process, celebrating a divorce with a holiday in Spain and getting hitched for the third time and seeking advice from your elder brother.

The acting talents of David Livingstone, Chris Bissex Williams, Jerry Grummitt and Graeme Johnson are all complimented with stellar performances from four exceptional leading ladies Claudia Barnes, Nicky Davies, Clare Jacobs and Clare Drewett.

Each performer utilises the script to its fullest potential by delivering comic lines and actions with well thought out pauses and double takes. The exercise of presenting two-handers also gives each cast member a chance to shine just that little bit brighter than bigger plays usually afford.

Special mention must also go to the vocalists Phil Lee Thomas and Eileen Symonds who added a touch of class to proceedings with renditions of several duets including Strangers in the Night and Love and Marriage between plays.

  • Duets play at The Dolman Theatre until Saturday.

  • Photographs by Phil Mansell

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