REVIEW: The Loose Cannon, plus Harlequinade at The Station Theatre, Hayling Island

The Loose Cannon and Harlequinade by the Southsea Shakespeare Actors

When a local theatre company reaches its 70th birthday, it’s reason to celebrate.

The Southsea Shakespeare Actors are at The Station Theatre on Hayling this week doing just that with a double bill of The Loose Canon – a devised piece celebrating Shakespeare’s 39 plays – and Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade.

It’s always a joy when a local group sets out to create new work – and that’s just what Vincent Adams, Rob Bartlett and Aaron Holdaway have done with The Loose Canon. There are, inevitably, comparisons to draw with the work of The Reduced Shakespeare Company but the level of inventiveness on offer here is, if anything, even greater. The beginning, perhaps, lacks attack – but once things get going, ‘breakneck’ is the word.

Harlequinade is Rattigan’s riotous indictment of the old actor-manager-led touring Shakespeare companies and here the SSA field a mighty cast.

The pairing of Andy Thomas and Sarah Parnell is heaven-sent. Thomas is always easy to watch and Parnell’s underplaying of the comedy here is – and I don’t think I’m exaggerating – genius.

Sue Bartlett and Nick Downes give superb support and there’s nicely-studied character-work from Ellen Giddey and David Pearson.

Hie thee to The Station and make ready thy laughing-gear.

Until Saturday.

More from Whats on