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How an injured beetle became a showstopper; Amateur Stage.

Byline: John Slim

THE attractive booklet with which the Nonentities have celebrated the quarter-century of their Kidderminster home, the Rose Theatre, provides heart-warming memories of just a few of the excellent productions, one from each season, with which this talented group has regaled its patrons.

But there's a visiting production that receives a special mention because it did not happen.

This was neither the Nonentities' fault nor that of the Birmingham Rep's touring company, which was due to present it: you can't legislate to replace a suddenly injured actor who had been due to play the central and acrobatically athletic role of a man who turns into a giant beetle.

The play concerned was Steven Berkoff's Metamorphosis, and its performance was cancelled an hour before it was due to begin.

The Nonentities' former chairman, Colin Young, says: "I was met at the theatre by people saying they couldn't do the play. The role was such that they didn't have an understudy, so we sat for an hour giving people their money back.

"It's the only time we have had this happen and it was a terrible disappointment."

MY copy of The Theatre Guide dates back to 2003 and is its third edition - so the seemingly rough justice that it administers to playwright Tim Firth has clearly been there for some time. After remarking that "there are certainly many similarities" between his work and that of Alan Ayckbourn, it says that Firth's 1992 play, Neville's Island, is reminiscent of Ayckbourn's Way Upstream (1981), and that another Firth play, The Safari Party, "recalls many of Ayckbourn's plays".

The inference is obvious but surely a little harsh. If any subject had to be out of bounds to any other playwright once any dramatist had featured it, the theatre would rapidly find itself short of material.

And even if Neville's Island, Firth's glorious comedy of businessmen marooned on an island during an Outward Bound-style course, does bring to mind the surreal misadventures on a canal holiday that Ayckbourn encapsulates in Way Upstream, it is stretching things somewhat to imagine that there has been dirty work at the crossroads.

Incidentally, I must treat myself to the current edition of The Theatre Guide to see whether the late Dennis Potter has by now managed to get himself a rather bigger mention than he apparently rated in 2003, when he emerged only as two lines of a footnote to the entry for the American playwright Levi Lee.

HIGHBURY Theatre Centre has been awarded a grant of pounds 10,000 from Awards for All, part of the National Lottery. The grant is to be used for the refurbishment and computerisation of the box office at the Sutton Coldfield venue.

I'M sure there's a reason for it, but Kenilworth's two little theatres are clearly intent on continuing their tradition of running their productions simultaneously.

Tomorrow, when Puss in Boots, at the Priory Theatre, and Beauty and the Beast, at the Talisman, both hit their final curtain, the town reverts to the between-times drought to which it has become accustomed over many years.

There is either theatrical abundance or there is nothing and it seems, to say the least, a little odd.

BIRMINGHAM group Youth Onstage will hold auditions from 5pm on Sunday at Ladywood Arts Centre, Monument Road, Birmingham, for its production of Annie, to be staged at the Old Rep, Birmingham, in May.

Prospective participants should be aged from nine to 25. Suzy Petty has more information on 01564 822228.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 5, 2007
Words:582
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