Sardines review of Company

Performance: 23rd November 2013

Review by Alex Wood

First, a declaration of interest. I know this group fairly well, especially as one of my daughters has done shows with them. She was in this show.

Sharnbrook is a very good group but having seen most of Sondheim’s shows – this one twice, done by professional companies – I was interested to see what they would make of it.

I am pleased to be able to say that in every aspect this was an excellent show. The show centres round Robert (Bobby), still a bachelor on his 35th birthday, surrounded by friends who are couples who idealise ‘coupledom’ in spite of the fact that in reality their own relationships are far from ideal. He has girlfriends but one is cookie, one is dim and the other… is going back home to Cape Cod to marry someone else!

David Russell’s portrayal of Bobby was spot-on. It’s a demanding role – apparently confident and self-sufficient on one hand but uncertain and searching for ‘something else’ on the other. With fine acting and singing David carried out this balancing act to perfection, especially in his rendition of the poignant ‘Marry Me A Little’.

The five couples were played to a tee; immaculately in character throughout the show. Chorus work was also excellent and dancing was sharp and precise. Beautiful ensemble work with some super performances from Annette Codrington (‘The Little Things You Do Together’ and ‘The Ladies Who Lunch’), Kaye Stevens (‘Getting Married Today’ … so difficult to get just right but she did it) and Colin Woolmer (‘Sorry – Grateful’). ‘You Could Drive A Person Crazy’ was performed to syncopated perfection by the girlfriends – Lorna Wood, Francesca Coleman and Leanne Shorley.

All this performed on a beautifully-designed, flexible, two-level set, complete with (occasionally) flashing lights to remind us that we were in New York

Great credit must be given to director Paul Frecknall for drawing all this together with such skill – this, with his commitment and enjoyment, was reflected in this wonderful show. He was more than ably assisted by Melanie Coleman, whose choreography lit up the stage, and the fine musical direction of Kaye Tompkins.

I find it hard to imagine that there could be an amateur production of ‘Company’ that would better this. Top class!