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April May 2010
'Beginners on Stage' - Ian Newell

By Emily Pearce - Friday, April 30th, 2010
(reproduced by kind permission of
the Isle of Wight County Press)

GIVING any production a title like Beginners on Stage seems either incredibly confident or ridiculously foolish.

Luckily, this latest offering from the Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS) was both interesting and entertaining, rendering the selection of mocking puns I had stored up useless.
This was an original work by Ian Newell, who after following up a job opportunity in Devon, gave his sister, Joanna Adams, the chance to take over directing.

The story is inspired by Ian’s own experiences both as an actor and crew member at various Island theatre companies.

A clever, if potentially confusing, comedy depicting a play within a play, it is about the efforts of the Toadbury Wetherington Independent Theatre Stagegroup (that’s right, the TWITS) to stage a murder mystery production.

With half the cast keeling over on stage or dashing off to the loo after a dodgy curry and the actors looking down on the efforts of the crew members filling in, the overall theme is a traditional one — the show must go on.

The cast is a strong one, with particularly good performances from Bob French, as a boozy am drammer, and Pete Harris who, as one of the stage hands collared into taking on an acting role, has an obvious gift for comic timing.

Special mention must go to Wayne Child, who stepped in to play Dave, a stage hand with a thing for wearing women’s clothes, after the original actor found himself stranded in the US, due to the ban on flights across Europe.

Although it was not a perfect performance — the intricate plot clearly left some audience members slightly perplexed and the climax lacked punch — Beginners on Stage was an innovative, ambitious production with some genuinely funny, farcical moments.

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