JOHN LAWSON Norwich Theatre Royal
Jacqueline Wilson's box office smash arrived in Norwich to another rapturous reception from its predominantly young audience.
The award-winning children's writer is one of the most popular among youngsters and many in the first-night audience were anticipating the story as it unfolded.
Double Act tells the tale of inseparable twins whose world is turned upside-down by the death of their mother and the arrival in their father's life of a new girlfriend.
Twins Ruby and Garnet (Helen Rutter and Catherine Kinsella) were full of bounce and enthusiasm – until they realised their hopes and dreams were spiralling out of their control.
Their dad (John McCraw) was determined to start a new life in a country bookshop with his new love Rose (Laura Sheppard), sidelining the girls' beloved grandmother (Bonny Ambrose).
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It was a world far from the dominant Ruby's dreams of becoming an actress amid the bright lights of London – but after her determination to pursue her destiny backfires, when her shy sister is handed the longed-for drama school place, a dangerous rift appears in their relationship.
Light relief among a hostile country community is added by the versatile Ben Redfearn, who mixes his role as local gang leader The Blob with a number of other comedy cameos.
Vicky Ireland's adaptation contains much to capture her young audience, with plenty of lively characterisation and a goodly sprinkling of latest chart music, while still engaging the parents who have been cajoled into attending.
The set, built of piles of books, is added to by little more than a few strategically-placed chairs, which double as tube trains, taxis and furniture. But the result is a fast-paced production which holds the attention throughout on the way to a conclusion that the bond between twins is one of the strongest.