Star Quality

Sheringham Little Theatre

Sheringham Little Theatre

A play about thespians and theatricality, Noel Coward's Star Quality (in Christopher Luscombe's adaptation of the original 1951 short story) is a fitting finale to another successful Sheringham summer rep season.

Gauche young playwright Bryan Snow (Andrew Piper) bags legendary actress Lorraine Barrie, based on Gertrude Lawrence, Coward's famous stage partner, for the lead role in his new play.

All the drama that ensues is behind the scenes: in rehearsal room, dressing room, bedroom. Tempers fray and flare, egos clash and collide.

Director Ray Malcolm (David Middleton) is determined to get his way, aided and abetted by his lover-cum-assistant schemer Tony (Richard Earl). Equally determined to get her way is Lorraine.

This motley crew of old troupers also has Marion (Illona Linthwaite) and Gerald (Sean Brosnan), while Lorraine's maid Nora (Veronica Lang) and actor Eric (Simon Stanhope) provide some sanity amid the mayhem.

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While the pace of the play sometimes slackens, the performances are polished, the humour has bite and there are flashes of farce.

Brosnan is very funny as bumbling Gerald, Illona Linthwaite's Marion is a fine caricature of acting incompetence and Jean Rogers as Lorraine sparkles like her diamonds in the demanding central role.

It's a smooth production, with a striking tableau to start Act Two (and local drama students as stage-hands).

The piece as a whole - with many neat historical touches, including period songs and costume - provides an entertaining backstage slice of English theatre that coincided with the end of Coward's long reign as master of the London stage.

Sally Whitman

t Runs until September 4 and again from September 12-15