Great theatre is not just confined to the big city theatres and the west end productions, you often find some fantastic gems unexpectedly in small local theatres all around the region, one theatre that rarely disappoints is the Garrick Theatre in Altrincham, last season I witnessed some fantastic top notch acting from productions; Handbagged and Gaslight to name just two.
Now kicking off a new season, the Garrick's latest production could be its most impressive yet as Ladies in Lavender opens the new season and raises the bar for this local theatre, Ladies in Lavender is based on the 2004 film of the same name which famously starred Judi Dench and won huge critical praise, a few changes have been made to the original film with it being adapted for the stage by Shaun McKenna but the Garrick has done a fantastic job at submerging you right into the story with a splendid set which features the sisters cottage and garden which sprawls out to the auditorium, making it a lot easier to get hooked in to this heartfelt tale of love and prejudice.
The plot follows the same guise as the film, set on the brink of World War Two in Cornwall with two spinster sisters finding a barely conscious man (Andrea played by Chris Wagstaff) washed up on their private beach, the sisters; 'Ursula' played by Margaret Leslie and 'Janet' played by Mags Johnson nurse the unknown man back to life from their cottage with the help of Dorcas played by Ruth Metcalfe, but they face backlash for harbouring a foreigner from their local community and from the local doctor played by John Keen. Fiona Primrose completes the line up playing Olga, the sister of a famous musician who promises to make Andrea a star.
The story is moving and heartfelt while still managing to maintain comedic moments at just the right points to provide you with that much needed light relief.
The acting from the entire cast is commendable, it felt very real and raw, something which theatre achieves much better than a motion picture, none more evident than the formidably talented Margaret Leslie as a distressed Ursula.
The Garrick has definitely established itself now as a powerhouse for local theatre in the Greater Manchester Area, as a venue it keeps improving and is starting to attract big names in the world of comedy and music, and I can see why - the sound tonight was crystal clear and seems to have improved significantly since last time I visited, with it being very authentic to have the original score from the film accompanying this production, written by Nigel Hess bellowing during scene changes.
Ladies in Lavender is wonderfully produced, performed and executed, a credit to all who made it possible.
Reviewer: Max Eden
Reviewed: 16th September 2017
North West End Rating: ★★★★