(2009) Kelly's Eye


Kelly’s Eye


An eye for modern issues

A Class Act Theatre Company: Kelly's Eye, at Arlington Arts, from Thursday, February 12 to Saturday, February 14

It's a brave man who will attempt to write and present an original piece of theatre. David Slade's production of Kelly's Eye was topical, modern, crammed full of good ideas and was both thought-provoking and entertaining.

The theme was bullying - and it was all seen through the eyes of Kelly (Rosie Sinfield) who was excellently and cleverly portrayed on a giant video screen - a powerful presence, narrating and commenting incisively on the unfolding story. This was an innovative and superb touch, underlining Kelly's isolation as she lived out her life in cyberspace.

In a series of vignettes, we met the well-drawn characters - an adult bully, with an impressive performance from Gary Brown as Jesse, and his abused wife Martina, who was well played by Wendy Orpwood (both also delivering great vocals). Then there was the 'posh' family and they were very effectively brought to life by Duncan Mack (William), and Natasha Kendall (Jennifer).

Despite the underlying seriousness of the subject, the script still managed to extract humour, and David Slade has a good ear for contemporary dialogue. This was most evident in the child actors' excellent performances: Louella Wison (Kylie), Beth Slade (Tina), Georgie Robson (Sarah), Paul O'Connor (Gavin), Sarah Baddesly (Victoria), Nicola Brooker (Freya), Ross Agar (Elton) and Ellie Brown (Andrea).

In the playground, the three teenage bullies, Pete Richings (Thom), Shaun Blake (Jed), Rhiannon Garrett (Jules) were also well depicted, Thom finally getting his come-uppance.

Dennis Heath as Monty and John Gibbs as Gordon re-created their camp roles from Azure Blue. They were a favourite with the audience and Rachel Haynes as Heather delivered some cracking dialogue while Siobhan Coates (Avril) and Helen Bazin (Alanis) provided good cameo performances.

R-Te Crew (choreographed by Josh Barrow) added a real urban feel with lively and exciting hip hop dancing - a highlight for me was the opening of the second act - a wonderful piece of theatre.

The setting was simple, but a host of props and furniture accurately set the scenes. The first act would have benefited from some judicious pruning and some of the musical numbers, while good in their own right, jarred a little, for me at least, in the course of the action. That said, there was loads of talent on view and it was in all, most interesting and enjoyable - congratulations to all concerned.


Noda’s (National operatic and dramatic association) review of the same:

 National Operatic & Dramatic Association                    London Region


Society     : A Class Act Theatre Company

Production: KELLY’S EYE

Date          : 13th February, 2009

Venue       : The Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury

Report by  : Barrie Theobald, Asst. NODA                             

                     Representative, Area 13



This ‘dark comedy for everyone in the 00’s’, written and directed by David Slade, dealt with the possible effects of bullying at school, home and work.   Linking the many scenes, we are conducted through the piece by Kelly, who spends most of her time in her bedroom ‘on-line’ on her computer and, ensuring the story ends happily, the wrong-doers get their comeuppance and see the error of their ways.   For this production the Company, comprising both adult and child performers, was augmented by the award-winning R-Te-Crew dance troupe who opened each Act with their unique and energetic stylised hip hop dancing, each routine having been skillfully choreographed by one of their members Josh Barrow to complement the storyline.


ROSIE SINFIELD (Kelly) mainly appeared to us in a video projection superimposed above the stage to represent her bedroom.    This gave her little scope to move, other than lean towards the camera to emphasise her dialogue and she was forced to rely on her attractive features to make her points.    Whilst in no way Rosie’s fault, it was rather unfortunate that the sound and picture were not quite synchronized at the performance I attended.


GARY BROWN (Jesse) gave a compelling performance as the bullying husband, father and work supervisor.   The show also contained a few musical interludes and Gary’s renditions of his solo numbers added quality to the overall success of the production although I personally felt that his delivery would have been even better had he not wandered around the stage quite so much.


WENDY ORPWOOD (Martina) was excellent as the long-suffering wife, clearly letting us see how, despite Jesse’s regular outbursts, she still had strong feelings for him and her family.   Hometown Glory was delightfully interpreted and delivered.


PETE RICHINGS (Thom) it was probably no surprise that Thom felt he could emulate what he saw at home and his portrayal of the moody, sadistic teenager was competently depicted.   Just occasionally he directed his dialogue upstage (especially when in the Park DSR) which caused up to miss some of his words.   I enjoyed his attack to his musical number.


GEORGIE ROBSON (Sarah) portrayed the youngest member of Jesse’s family, a very level-headed young lady instrumental in causing her brother to see an alternative to the approach to life he was following.   Georgie appeared very at home in her role and charmed us with her clear delivery and her lovely smile.   She also choreographed and danced an acrobatic ballet sequence during Hometown Glory.


DUNCAN MACK (William) was given a role with two sides to his character – the husband happy to leave most of the domestic arrangements to his overpowering wife and the HR Manager responsible for taking a stronger stance in his professional life.   Sometimes he dropped his voice at the end of sentences, making it difficult for us to hear the dialogue.


NATASHA KENDALL (Jennifer) – William’s somewhat overpowering wife who, tended to assume her children were a cut above the rest.   Jennifer gave us a well-defined interpretation of the role.


PAUL O’CONNOR (Gavin) stoically bore the school bullying.   I enjoyed Paul’s characterisation very much  although we often lost his words when he addressed his dialogue upstage, which was a shame.   (Ask David or someone at your theatre club to show you how to ‘cheat front’, Paul).   The visual results of Thom’s abuse  created by the makeup artist were excellent.


SARAH BADDESLY (Victoria) was a typical rebellious teenager.   The role did not offer many opportunities for you to develop it beyond the words in the book.


RHIANNON GARRETT (Jules) developed the role well but regularly spoke upstage, making it difficult for us to catch all that she was saying.  


SHAUN BLAKE (Jed) over the years I have watched Shaun develop his theatrical skills with other local societies.  In this role he did not quite convince me that he was evil enough to want to hang around with Thom and Jules!   However, Shaun always demonstrates enthusiasm for his roles and has learnt how to project his voice when on stage.


DENNIS HEATH (Monty) I couldn’t make up my mind whether you were deliberately taking your dialogue slowly as part of your portrayal as the gay factory manager or whether the hesitation was unintentional.   The blocking of many of your scenes saw you speaking directly upstage without a noticeable change of volume in the projection.


JOHN GIBBS (Gordon) your characterisation managed to avoid the stereo-type camp portrayal often given to the more sensitive partner of a gay relationship, making him an interesting contrast to the more bombastic Monty.                                                                                                                                           


The author’s selection of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me afforded a superb tongue-in cheek interpretation of the number for both Dennis and John.


RACHEL HAYNES (Heather) was certainly less timid than her sister Martina!   We lost some of your facial expressions due to your rather heavy eye makeup.


LOUELLA WILSON (Kylie) }I have bracketed these two roles together as they always

BETH SLADE (Tina)              }appeared on stage at the same time, showing the gentler side of life at school.   Once or twice Beth directed her voice upstage instead of out to the audience and we lost her words.


Other cameo roles as factory workers, a family having a picnic in the park etc. were portrayed by Siobhan Coates, Helen Bazin, Nichole Brooker Ellie Brown and Ross Agar.


At times there were noticeable occasions where cues were not picked us as quickly as they should have been, but these did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the production.

PRODUCTION.   Phil Hallam and his stage crew had a very busy time setting and striking the many scenes throughout the production.  Whilst I am sure there were practical reasons for playing the scenes in the manner you did, with hindsight, I wondered whether setting the park

swing scene centre stage (where it started), permanently setting the two house interiors stage left and right and merely creating the two factory scenes in front of the swing, placing more reliance on the lighting of each specific scene as it was used would have given the piece better continuity.   All the costumes and stage properties used were relevant to the scenes as they were performed and I loved the simple way props and crew created the difference between the two factories.   The recorded music arrived on cue each time and was relevant to each particular point in the action that it occurred.   I have made many references above about members of the cast turning upstage when they needed to address their dialogue to someone US to them.   The cheat front skill is certainly a useful piece of stagecraft worth developing by any performer who is not using a radio microphone and is one I would recommend for use in future productions.  


This was an interesting and novel production that, with a few trimmings here and there, has the potential to bring home the message about bullying to a wider audience.    The final musical scene in the Multiplex afforded opportunities for many of the cast to sing a few solo lines, as well as giving the dancers a final chance to show us their skills before the evening was brought to a happy conclusion.   An attractive programme with a good range of show information and adverts complemented the production .   You may wish to consider submitting copies (5) for judging in the basic programme class when the Regional annual general meeting takes place


Thank you for inviting me to review your production in Henry’s enforced absence due to illness.





Barrie Theobald

Assistant NODA Representative Area 13