Monday, 27 February 2012

Latest theatre review by Vidar Hjardeng

Review of audio described performance of South Pacific at the New Alexandra Theatre matinee on Saturday 18 Feb 2012.

63 years after its premiere Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific still has some of the most popular songs of the musical genre, such as the familiar the light-hearted ‘I’m going to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair through to the mystical Bali Hai, and of course, the romantic Some Enchanted Evening. Having seen the film many years ago I was looking forward to seeing this award winning production newly on tour following its sell out success at London’s Barbican theatre.

Audio describers, Matt and Jacey met fellow visually impaired patrons and their companions at the Station St entrance of the New Alexandra Theatre in time for the 1 pm touch tour. Unfortunately my cab driver dropped me off at the wrong entrance which did pose a bit of a problem but, thanks to the benefits of my mobile phone, I was able to contact the Stage Door who were really helpful and in a couple of moments the front of house manager Paul came to find me to take me to the correct entrance .. which was a great relief! Despite this unscheduled detour I caught up with the group so didn’t miss any of the going on stage to examine some of the props including the kiosk of the Polynesian pedlar, Bloody Mary. Matt and Jacey kindly ensured that we all had our headsets in time to tune into their comprehensively informative pre-show notes which they delivered ‘live’ a quarter of an hour before the 2.30 pm curtain up.

During this introduction we learnt more about the sets of the various locations, the costumes and who plays which character – and we were told that on this occasion the part of the leading lady, Arkansas nurse, Nellie Forbush, would be played by the understudy Carrie Anderson, (who I thought did a brilliant job!). I had forgotten that the story, set on a Polynesian island in 1943 during World War 2, deals in part, with the subject of racism and so there are inevitably, some serious moments, but there are also many light-hearted scenes especially the ensemble performance of the iconic piece There is Nothing Like a Dame. Although it is fair to say that in general terms I felt I could have followed the story without audio-description, I am so pleased that it was available for this particular performance as it enabled me to appreciate the subtle nuances, which otherwise would have eluded me.

The next audio described production at the New Alexandra Theatre will be another popular musical, Chicago, on the afternoon of Saturday 10 March 2012. To book tickets and headsets for this audio described production and the touch tour, please ring the dedicated access line 0121 230 9077.

No comments: