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Spread a 'Little' Happiness (2021)

Reviews of all Main House Leicester Drama Society shows can be found below by following the link to the relevant show. Reviews are carried out by an independent reviewer who is not an active member of the Leicester Drama Society. If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, then please contact the theatre office.

Class (June 2021)

Reviewed by Philippa Iliffe

It was a great joy to be back at The Little to watch Class – coincidentally the last show to have a full run before the theatre closed due to lockdown. I would like to acknowledge firstly the great lengths that all the team at the theatre have taken to ensure the safety of their staff, cast and audiences. The COVID-19 procedures were slick and caused little disruption to the running of the event or, indeed, the enjoyment of watching the show.

Winner of an Edinburgh Fringe Festival First Award in 2018, Class is written by Iseult Golden and David Horan and directed and staged for The Little Theatre by Simon J. Dickens (Leicester Drama Society). The story, which is set in a deprived area of Dublin, follows a myriad of narratives as it explores the emotions of new teacher Ray McCafferty (played by Robin McFarland) who is very much finding his feet and enduring the many challenges the classroom brings; Donna and Brian, the parents of Jayden (played by Tim Stokes and Nikki Cooper); and schoolchildren Jayden and Kaylie (also played by Stokes and Cooper).

Noticing that Jayden is falling behind academically, but is also having some behavioural issues, Mr McCafferty calls Donna and Brian in for a parent-teacher meeting. Mr McCafferty is desperate to do the right thing as a teacher, but is very much walking on eggshells after realising that Jayden’s parents are going through a separation. Brian is very matter of fact and wants answers after being out-of-the-loop in his son’s progress, and Donna usually avoids confrontation, but has been pushed to her limits as a mother and the main carer of their children.

The scenes between McCafferty, Donna and Brian are interspersed with time-warped scenes between Mr McCafferty, Jayden and Kaylie. The transition between the scene/character changes is seamless, helped by the clever use of a lighting and sound effect as well as subtle changes in posture and facial expressions from the cast.

Both Stokes and Cooper are chameleon actors and dip in and out of their dual characters with ease – Stokes particularly makes use of great facial expressions in his portrayal of young Jayden and Cooper is brilliant with her comedic timing. McFarland has the balance just right when it comes to levelling with Jayden and Kaylie in his class and navigating the tricky waters as the drama unfolds in the parent-teacher meeting. For the most part, the cast were able to maintain Irish accents, though there were times when they dropped off slightly during the performance.

The set is basic, functional and very fit for purpose. The stark classroom setting allows the audience to focus wholly on the narratives taking place, allowing for plenty of reflection and emotion. There is no need for more ‘frills’ to be added to this production. I believe that when this was performed last year in The Little Theatre’s studio, the setting and audience placement was slightly different and perhaps allowed a little more intimacy. However, this main house setting was fine.

Overall, this was a thought-provoking performance exploring the frailties of human relationships, prejudice, vulnerability and accepting consequences. I highly recommend it.

Spread a ‘Little’ Happiness (May 2021)

Reviewed by Lynette Watson

Echoing the theatre’s name in its title, ‘Spread a ‘Little’ Happiness’ was the opening production at Leicester’s Little Theatre and it certainly achieved that as the anticipation and expectancy of the delighted ‘socially distanced’ audience was palpable as they took their seats to attend a live show away from the television, Zoom and the screens of social media. The theatre has undergone a total refurbishment during the dark months of lockdown and having met all the government Covid guidelines including a clean air filter system has been given the prestigious ‘See It Safely’ mark awarded by the Society of West End Theatres.

Billed as ‘an evening of music lighten the heart on our return to the theatre’ the ten strong cast took the audience on a whistle stop tour of numbers from musicals and other popular songs with The 2 of Diamonds, an instrumental duo thrown into the mix, plus the guest appearance of the Sienna Acoustic guitar team who entertained throughout the interval. David Lovell was suave and genial as the host and his version of ‘I’ve got a (covid) List’ proved very apt, all the performers belted out the songs with confidence matching each other in the strength of their vocals, certainly an array of powerful performances.

A highlight of the second half was Tracy Holderness’s delivery of ‘I’ll Be Here’ from the musical Ordinary Days, sung with true poignancy, another being the personality and rapport with the audience from Stuart Bryan reminiscent of a young Alfie Boe!

The cast had rehearsed privately at home and with only two short rehearsals hit the boards with a slick and uplifting performance ending the show with ‘Always Look on the Bright Side’ from Monty Python and once again the message is in the title.