Above The Stag Theatre (venue)
08 August 2022 (released)
04 August 2022
It is tragic to see one of London's top LGBTQ theatre venues having to close its doors. It is made all the more tragic as their last production only received a three day run. With only one week's rehearsal period it was never going to be long enough to get this classic comedy by Jimmie Chinn fully ready. A surprise west end hit in the early 90's Straight and Narrow was one of the first comedy plays that centred around a gay couple in an established relationship, showing the normality of cohabiting but still not being totally 'open'. It has a much of the qualities of an Alan Bennett play but set in Lancashire, Jimmie's home county.
This was Mark Curry's first time as director and unfortunately it showed. There were awkward moves around the living room set and a lot of the pathos and subtlety of the characters was missing, playing too much for the comedy. Some faults maybe due to the truncated rehearsal period, but it struggled to deliver a production worthy of such a good script.
There were exceptions with Bob played by Lewis Allcock who really held the production together and switched from narrator to character extremely well, and also, Lois played by Kerry Enright who understood her character totally and excelled in both the comedy and truth this play requires. Unfortunately Carol Royale as the domineering mother Vera had to have the script with her ( a victim of the short rehearsal period) which meant that her reactions and timing weren't always there, and in a pivotal character such as Vera this was going to be problematic, and it was. Good support from the rest of the cast saved it from being a disaster, but if only this production had had to normal rehearsal period it could have been very different. And now it has been forced to close there won't be time for it to develop or improve.
It's a shame. A shame we have lost Above The Stag and a real shame that this was its last production. hopefully the theatre will saved and re-emerge somewhere in the future.