DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Way Old Friends Do – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Writer: Ian Hallard

Director: Mark Gatiss

The Way Old Friends Dois the first play that Ian Hallard has written. It is a personal narrative, telling the story of a middle-aged, LGBTQ+, Birmingham-born ABBA fan. It is hugely refreshing to see a completely unique and original story being told on stage. The script is funny and packed full of a huge amount of heart. The characters Hallard has created are relatable, if not all hugely complex.

Mark Gatiss’ direction keeps the play moving. Some scene transitions, due to the rotating stage, are a little slow but the action of the narrative is well paced. Janet Bird’s costumes are great fun, especially those for the ABBA tribute band, and her design is simple but works well. However the stage placed on top of the stage is almost too high, especially when the Lyceum’s stage is already quite high. Even sitting 7 or 8 rows back from the stage, you find yourself looking up at the action.

Marc Frankum CDG has assembled a stellar cast for this new play. Writer Ian Hallard leads the cast as Peter. His performance is truly excellent. He is warm and likeable and builds excellent rapport with the performers around him. James Bradshaw plays opposite Hallard very well as Edward. He is funny and his slightly OTT nature complements Hallard’s down to earth nature beautifully.

Donna Berlin plays Sally. The audience really routes for Sally and her relationship, so it is a shame we never get to see her partner. Berlin has great rapport with Hallard, as well as understudy Tariyé Peterside as Mrs Campbell. Peterside has spot on comic timing and particularly shines as she settles into the ABBA tribute group in Act Two. Rose Shalloo makes a great aspiring actor as Jodie. It does take some time to warm to her character, but the audience eventually routes to see her succeed in her career. Andrew Horton completes the cast as Christian. He has great chemistry with Hallard and Bradshaw, whilst also playing the colder, more unlikeable side of the character brilliantly. His actions really shock the audience and break their hearts for certain characters.

All of the characters are intriguing and it is a shame we don’t get to see more of what they each get up to in their personal lives outside the tribute band. They all have a lot of potential and each could warrant a play of their own telling their stories.

The Way Old Friends Dois great fun, especially for ABBA fans, and your reviewer looks forward to seeing what Hallard writes in the future as he continues to hone his skills.

The Reviews Hub Score

FABBAulous fun!

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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