4words - review

4words, Alnwick Playhouse, Friday, March 2.

THE four words that came to my mind after seeing this latest performance from Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) were funny, poignant, brilliant and stupid.

Funny, poignant and brilliant because the four short plays on show were by turns all of these.

And stupid, because, yet again, I cannot tell why the Arts Council feels that the provision of high-quality theatre such as this for the rural areas of Northumberland and beyond is not considered worthy of any funding.

4words is, in part, a showcase for the young actors of the InterACT scheme and the variety of style and tone between the four plays was admirable, allowing them to show off their versatility.

Each of the four plays related to one of four words – love, life, longing and laughter – but in reality, these were constant themes among all four.

In particular, I thought the order in which the plays were performed was exactly right, ending with what I think was my favourite, the hilarious Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, which, as well as being about laughter, was also about another ‘l’ word. You’ll have to watch it to find out what it is.

The acting was great throughout with the younger actors – James Laurence Hunter, Steven Jaan Pilman, Georgina Hall and Nadia Emam - ably supported by NTC regulars Nigel Collins and Eleanor Dennison.

Of particular note is the staging and set design, which is always of a high standard in NTC productions, thanks to the hard work of Michelle Huitson.

No matter how good the acting and directing, without clever design, allowing six actors to perform four different plays in limited space, the whole concept would fall apart.

Happily, everything comes together to produce as enjoyable an evening as I have had at the theatre in a while, probably since I last saw the NTC.

Ben O’Connell