Performances are strong and a joy

Mr Bloom's Nursery Live

CBeebies star’s new show at the Kings, Southsea, promises to be blooming marvellous

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Midnight is a Place

The Spring, Havant

Joan Aiken’s 1976 novel for children was given feisty life by Forest Forge Theatre Company as its brief stop-off at The Spring.

The cast of four play wild and fast with all of Aiken’s Dickens-like characters, Chris Barlow in particular changing character more often than the rest. Only one of his characterisations disappointed – his overly camp lawyer – with that campness resulting in mugging galore. Barlow’s large number of characterisations also resulted in the only grating moment of the evening with the cast acknowledging his situation as an actor and breaking from the plot for some misplaced comedy.

This, however, is pretty good stuff.

Lee Rufford, as protagonist Lucas Bell, is very watchable andconvincingly portrays the insecurities of childhood. Lucas’ transition to manhood is heartwarming, stepping up to protect French orphan Anna Marie with whom his future is bound and, as Anne Marie, Julie Rose Smith is a joy. Her performance energy is strong and high.

Andrew Wheaton comes into his own as the mysterious woman in the ice-house, but also gives a very funny baddy, leaping about the stage on crutches.

Catch it if you can, especially if you have children.

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