Curtain Up! is a 'fitting way' to open the new Abbey Theatre season in St Albans
- Credit: Abbey Theatre
There is a certain poignancy about the Company of Ten choosing Peter Quilter’s play Curtain Up! to launch its new season.
For the comedy about five women who have inherited a dilapidated theatre and have to work together to bring it back to life is not so far removed from the situation at the Abbey Theatre since the start of the Covid pandemic.
While the theatre did not fall into disrepair during that time, productions were few and far between or performed to an online audience.
But now that things are much more back to normal at the theatre in St Albans, it is fitting that the 2021/2022 season should get underway with this comedy.
Curtains Up!, directed imaginatively by Sally Davis, centres on the women in the life of the late Michael who has left them the ramshackle theatre.
The cuckoo in the nest as far as Michael’s estranged wife Pam is concerned is his second wife, the glamorous Jackie, who also has a share in the theatre.
And in a play that, it has to be said, is far funnier in the second half than the first, there is a magic moment before the interval when Pam, played by long-standing CoT performer Katherine Barry, and Jackie, the role taken by newcomer Ceri Sims, almost come to blows.
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Emma Barry takes the role of Theresa, Michael and Pam’s daughter, who can see nothing but good for the future of the theatre.
She is both the leader and peacemaker of the project and her embarrassment is palpable when she has to explain to the theatre audience why the American superstar they thought was coming is not there.
Lisa Sinnott portrays the punky Sharon, forever singing the praises of ‘my Stevie’ despite his run-ins with the law.
The role is that of a very stereotypical punk but in the second act Lisa lifts the character to make her far more interesting.
Completing the cast is Maureen Bukht as the grandmother Betty, and she steals the show when she is on stage, particularly when dressed in full costume as a dog.
Maureen stepped into the role when the original Betty had to drop out and does a brilliant job.
I saw Curtain Up! on the first night when the theatre was around half full.
There was a nervousness about some of the acting but confidence grew as the play went on. What it really needs is a packed audience to bring it fully to life and there are still plenty of nights to see it.
Curtain Up! runs until Saturday, September 25, and tickets are available from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk