Pat Hamilton reviews One Way Or Another

One Way Or Another
by Phil Law and George Kirkman
performed by Waterbeach Community Players
directed by Chris Shinn

This is a difficult show to review given that it isn’t exactly a musical nor is it a play. What it is, and was, is a trip down memory lane for the large majority of the audience.

Nostalgia was the name of the game and Waterbeach went for it in a big way. The hall had four interesting displays of memorabilia, newspaper headlines, adverts, record albums, top ten hit lists and archive photographs of the society's 1970s and 1980s shows. The theme was carried through to the retro raffle and the tuck shop selling retro sweets. The bar even sold Babycham. It was all very well thought out.

The script was a series of sketches, some long, some not so long amusingly linked by two narrators (Christine Easterfield and Chris Shinn) and some great music from the excellent (although for me a bit loud) band. The music and the memory jogs from the narrators gave the audience the opportunity to join in singing the tag line of the old TV ads and to recognise much of what was talked about from their own lives (if they were over 40!).

Adults playing children is not a new idea but having to make the transition from thirteen year old teenagers to thirty year old adults is a challenge in itself. All six of the main characters Jeanette (Rosie Wilson), Debbie (Vicki Green), Helen (Jane Stewart), Gary (Michael Husband), Paul (Chas Barclay) and Alan (Paul Lockwood) did an excellent job as we followed them from their "seminal" years through to career changing moments. All characters were well-portrayed and as things progressed it was easy to believe the six of them were firm friends.

The main players were supported by an Ensemble team of about eight who were fascinating to watch. Their lives ran parallel with the others and they too managed, without words, to transform from teens to thirties. They should be commended for providing such good support and following their own storylines without upstaging the main action.

The setting was an empty stage with a white backdrop used as a screen before the show started with a slideshow of all things 70s and 80s which was fun to watch and again much thought had gone into this. The furniture props were school tables and chairs just rearranged to depict various settings and locations and no props. All props were mimed and very well too giving rise to one or two very amusing moments. It might not have worked but it did. The costumes and hairstyles were well thought out again evoking memories, some of which are probably best forgotten.

The script could have been bitty if it hadn’t had been so smoothly linked by the music and the narrators to move things on. There was a clever 'epilogue' when Jeannette and Paul’s teenage daughter (played with confidence by Emily Rutherford) came on and tied things up nicely.

Congratulations to the writers, director and the whole cast. This was a great trip down memory lane which was a bit embarrassing too as I remembered all the songs and tv ads!

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Cambridge CB25 9JU

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