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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

If The Shoe Fits

Author: Donna Lesley Price

Director: Richie Grice
Producer: Boom Boom Baby Productions
Liverpool Academy of Arts Actors Studio

Cast: Sue Burke, Terri Nesbit, Donna Coleman, Donna Price, Richie Grice,
Trev Flemming, Barry Mason, Nico Xander, Paul Symm, Lesley Hendry

Saturday, May 17th 2008
WOS Rating: ***

Image: If The Shoe Fits promotional image


Okay, let me get this over with straight away. There is nothing wrong with swearing, crudity and sexual innuendo as long as it is in context, suits the audience and is, well, either funny or poignant. There shouldn’t be any taboos in the arts, but using the “F-word” like a full stop for the “my mum’s neighbour’s in the audience” shock value does not a great play make.

 

Is there a lot of swearing in If The Shoe Fits? Yes. Is it largely unnecessary? Yes. Does it bring any sort of realism to the play? It’s set, mostly, in a shoe shop so no, it doesn’t. Okay, so much of the dialogue is between friends, but even so. It’s doubtful Dolcis would be looking to employ such a bunch in the near future or that the tills will be ringing out like Bells on Christmas Eve either in any such business.

Donna Price is not the first to succumb to this growing trend, either. Dave Kirby, Willy Russell and even Alan Bleasdale have fallen into this particular Chubby Brown sized Elephant Trap recently, though these last three have also delivered plays that have a substance that is both thought provoking and, also, original. If The Shoe Fits is a “nicely” structured piece, but it could have been so much better if a little more emphasis had been placed on character and plot rather than titillation and inference.

With that said, however, there is still much to commend If The Shoe Fits with a certain edginess that is, quite often, highly entertaining. There are also a few surprises that are downright hilarious and, so, make the play as a whole work quite well and that in no small part is thanks to the cast whose timing is pretty much spot on if, at times, their characters are stereotypical.

Richie Grice’s performance as the overtly camp owner of Twinkle Toes, Jamie, is tailor – or cobbler – made for the role and like all great drunks are played by tea-totals, Grice comes up to the mark similarly well in the Gay stakes.

Excellent, too, are Sue Burke as the mother-figure / shop manager, Liz, with her words of wisdom and humble naiveté shining through in every word and mannerism, and Terri Nesbit, whose Chaz character’s seemingly literal laid back approach to life hides a deeper, darker secret and is pulled off with great skill.

Stealing the credits, however, is Trev Flemming, who delivers the most lines that are both rude and shocking, but also those that are in keeping with their character’s “voices”. Never once does he slip out of his roles as a Priest and Nightclub Barman, sticking to his portrayal well and delivering his lines with great poise and style.

Besides which he deserves special praise for having the bottle to wear his costumes with such obvious relish and not run for the wings as soon as the spotlight hit him.
If The Shoe Fits is an enjoyable night out. There are some great lines and some excellent twists, but as it stands it also suffers too many times of trying too hard to feed the Scouse, well, Scouse.

Donna Lesley Price clearly has talent, but perhaps concentrating a little less on trying to shock an audience and a little more on telling them a more meaningful story – perhaps by concentrating on perhaps two characters rather than the stories of the whole cast at this early stage of her career – will move her along a mile or two.

 

 


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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