Alfie – A Review
Performed at Grange Arts Centre, ‘in the round’ theatre whilst Oldham Coliseum is having its refurbishment, Alfie had an hard act to follow in the iconic sixties film of the same name. However, I think that ‘in the round’ really suited this particular production. Director, David Thacker even made Alfie moving props look like part of the actual performance. David Ricardo-Pearce who played the character of Alfie pulled it off with charm and panache.
He captured the cheeky cockney very well, constantly moving about the stage so that no-one ended up looking at his back for too long. He also sat down next to various members of the audience to deliver some of his lines, which was a good device for getting across his character’s likeability factor. Seated on the front row, meant that Alfie made eye contact with me several times making me feel like I was part of the performance, very entertaining. David Ricardo-Pearce achieved the right blend of cheekiness, arrogance and pathos with his portryal of the Alfie character.
With the exception of Ricardo-Pearce, the rest of the cast had to play two or sometimes three roles and none did this better than Isabel Ford who played both ‘Siddie’ and later on the considerably less glamorous, Lily. It was only when I read the cast list that I realised she had played both parts! Siddie was suitably silly, giggly and sexy. Isabel’s portrayal of Lily went from dutiful wife, to Alfie’s lover to desperate woman in a desperate situation seamlessly.
John Branwell gave a very chilling performance as ‘Mr. Smith’ the illegal abortionist. The seemingly never ending parade of women that went in and out of Alfie’s life were played by, Francesca Ryan, Barbara Hockaday and Vicky Binns. The former Coronation Street actress (she played Molly Dobbs before being killed off in the tram crash.) Vicky seemed to struggle with the accent of her character, Carla. When she came on stage in her nurse’s uniform she gave us quite a comedic ‘carry-on’ performance, behind the screens with Alfie. Her portrayal of Annie was much better drawn and her reaction to Alfie’s violence was very realistic.
The previously mentioned John Branwell, was joined by Ken Sabberton and Eamon Riley who played very good foils to Alfie’s wayward character. Looking back on the sixties from our modern day perspectives where political correctness is the norm, Alfie’s appalling treatment of the women in his life was at times quite shocking. The performance was excellent and Ricardo-Pearce was the star ably supported by the rest of the cast. Highly recommended.
© Carolina de la Cruz – April 2012