Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grit and Glamour: Knife Edge at the Lowry

When I've seen Jill Myers on stage, she is usually wearing a very glamorous frock and is often playing the trumpet. There's usually at least one child in the audience who's wondering whether to cry.

This has nothing to do with the posh frock or the trumpet and everything to do with the fact that Jill is the absolute Queen of Glamorous Panto Baddies.

Sleeping Beauty never reaches sixteen without Jill turning up to sing a power-ballad solo and then put everyone to sleep for a hundred years. Cinderella's path to the ball is often thwarted by Jill making her stay at home to do the cleaning and telling her to "Build a bridge. Get over it." That kind of thing.

Last night was a bit different, because it was Jill's opening night in Knife Edge, which is a very gritty Northern play about a teenager who has been stabbed and killed.

The opening night was in The Lowry, which may be Northern but is anything but gritty - it's a huge and glamorous arts centre with no less than three theatres in the very-gentrified Salford Quays, Greater Manchester. Yesterday, with the sunshine glinting on all the buildings and the water round the building, it looked stunning.

Mind you, the Lowry is ten years old and I bet that's the first time it's ever been bathed in sunshine. Sunshine and Manchester are not frequent companions.

The play was short and powerful. The story is that the father of the boy who's been stabbed and killed has challenged him to turn up and fight him in a duel to the death.

He's neglected to inform the boy's mother of this fact - - and she turns up and, not surprisingly, is not happy about it. So we had Jill playing the mother, a feisty and furious Northern redhead in jeans and not a posh frock anywhere.

The cast - all four of them - were terrific. Oh, how I love to see good actors acting! (and oh boy, having seen a lot of theatre, these days I just can't stand to watch bad ones). They played it with wit and style - so it was funny in places and not all doom and gloom, which it could so easily have been.

There was a photo-montage of the boy's life - and actually, I'd have liked a bit more in the script here about what might have happened if he had not died. I'd have liked it if the father in the play - a printer who knew how to use Photoshop - had created a few photos of his son's missing future to torment the killer with.

Because when you lose a child it's not just their past that you lose - - it's their whole future, and yours with it.

It was great to see Jill in a different role. And I hope to see her in full glam mode again, next Christmas. If you'd like to see Knife Edge, its tour dates are on the website here.


Blogger mark whiteley said...

I couldn't agree more

9:21 am  

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