Monday 4 July 2022

Review by Julian Salt of "The Card" by Arnold Bennett, adapted by Deborah McAndrew, with the Claybody Theatre

My wife and I have just seen a stunning adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s The Card. Claybody Theatre's Deborah McAndrew, writer, and Conrad Nelson, director, have produced an enthralling masterpiece which should not be missed. The seven professional actors / musicians with supporting brass band and the enthusiastic entourage of Claybody volunteers created a gem of a riotous romp from start to finish. The actors played multiple roles and were all accomplished singers and dancers.

Bennett’s novel showed how with ‘dash’ we can break through adversity and ;cheer up' the world. O how we need  this today! McAndrew's and Nelson’s genius warms the heart and  makes you want to unleash the Denry in us all … we loved every moment of it!

Well done especially to the supporting cast of Claybody Theatre's volunteers. On a shoestring you have produced a most memorable show, which fully deserves a wider audience.

The renovated Fenton Town Hall gave the performance authenticity and a historical canvas exuding its own vibe, which served to enhance this exquisite production.

After watching Deborah McAndrew, the writer, pick up a basket of the actors' clothes and take them away to wash them, ready for tomorrow's performance, we appreciated the work ethic she shares with the whole of her team. The way the actors gave freely of their time afterwards reflected their wholehearted approach to the project. Celebrating the Potteries and Fenton, (the missing sixth town) in Fenton Town Hall, this masterpiece was given a magical authenticity. 

Throughout, the show was a rich kaleidoscope of polkas and waltzes, shanties and folk songs, Potteries humour and dramatic irony all of which warmed our  hearts in these cold Putinized days. From shades of unscrupulous landlords to excursions to Llandudno, from love to ambition and greed, politics and intrigue, all were combined within a simple tale of a Stokie who made good.

McAndrew, originally from Leeds and Conrad from Liverpool - we salute you. Welcome to The Potteries Hall of Fame for writing and directing such a stunning show! 

About the reviewer
Julian Salt is a retired Psychologist born in Fenton, who now lives in Derbyshire and enjoys revisiting his roots.

You can read another review of this adaptation of The Card here

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