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Roma and the Flannelettes: A Love Like Yours by Richard Cameron Theatre by the Lake Studio
Music and laughter create the strongest memory hooks in the brain, and author Richard Cameron has put this to excellent effect with his new stage play which received it’s world premiere at theatre by the Lake in Keswick writes Karen Morley.
Set in a women’s refuge in a former pit village in South Yorkshire, Roma and the Flannelettes: A Love Like Yours does have some hard hitting messages about Britain in the 21st century. Like it’s core theme, it grooms the audience with fun and excitement, opening with a brilliant performance by The Flannelettes in the miners’ welfare club. Then, like an abuser uses this innocent joy to take you down a route no one would freely chose for themselves.
Innocence is personified in the lead character Delie played by Jessica Ellis whose career I look forward to watching. Ellis has already shown her stage magnetism and brilliance in the other productions this season at Theatre by the Lake. However as Delie, the 22 year old woman with a mental age of a young 12 year old, her performance skills shine like a diamond within a crown of equally brilliant precious stones that make up this cast.
As well as having a great singing voice, Ellis captures the beauty of a child’s purity and love of the moment. Within the intimate setting of the Studio her eyes express the love and pain her character goes through. If Jessica Ellis isn’t a household name as a leading character actress by the end of the decade there’s no justice in the arts.
Cameron’s lines are brilliant. He captures the love and caring within a tough community, without over sentimentalising the situation. And he gets the feel of the working men’s club perfectly. You can almost smell the stale ale in the air.
Though set in a gritty working class environment, it highlights how the same issues can painfully touch people from any walk of life. Jean, played by Louise Yates is a middle class woman from the south escaping a violent husband. Roma is a young woman from a stable, loving home who was dragged into the drug and sex underworld.
But this is not a depressing production. There are people who care, and there is joy to be found in life.
George, played by Stephen Aintree funded the refuge after winning the pools during the miners strike. From an abusive background he has created a loving, caring present. Delie’s aunty Brenda, played by Nicky Goldie runs the refuge. A social worker with problems of her own, loving and fighting the institutionalisation of abuse with her colleague and lover policeman Jim, played by Philip Rham.
You can’t help but feel for and fall for Cameron’s characters thanks to his brilliant writing, and this excellent cast’s performance. This production is directed by Stefan Escreet and designed by Thomasin Marshall and is definitely one of the best productions not only of this season but the last decade at Theatre by the Lake.
o Roma and the Flannelettes: A Love Like Yours runs at The Studio, Theatre by the lake until November 10, 2012.
Tickets cost: £19.50 - £10. Book by calling Box Office 017687 74411 or book online: www.theatrebythelake.com.
CAPTION: L to R Jessica Ellis_Stephen Aintree and Nicky Goldie. Photoby Keith Pattison.