ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD by James Roose-Evans adapted from a novel by Helen Hanff Directed by Steve Mallinson Droylsden Little Theatre 84, Charing Cross Road was first published in 1970. It dramatizes Hanff ’s 20 years of correspondence with Frank Doel, the chief buyer for Marks & Co, a London bookshop. Due to financial difficulties, she put off visiting her friends across the pond until it was too late, Doel Sadly passed in the December of ‘68. Hanff did finally visit Charing Cross Road and the empty but still-standing shop in the summer of ‘71. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the entire cast on how well each and every player on the stage tackled this extremely wordy dialogue and brought it to life. This surely was a difficult piece to learn and not once did any of you stumble or miss a beat. Amy Evens is excellently cast as Helene Hanff, maintaining a New York accent throughout, and bringing out every aspect of her character through her dialogue. I really felt for Hanff as we followed her journey of being hired and fired, becoming a television series writer, and the heartaches of every cancellation of her dream trip to London to meet her pen pals. I did feel that a change of costume throughout the show might have helped represent the passing of time , but that aside, this was a well-rounded performance from Amy. Ian Chatterton was cast at the “very British” Frank Doel, initially a cold individual, a total juxtaposition to the brazen American. Ian gradually transformed from British gentleman with a stiff upper lip, to an old friend who we cared for, and genuinely felt a connection with, as events progressed. Towards the end of the play, he looked distinctly older, walking with a cane, and struggling to complete his daily tasks with a depleted workforce. I really enjoyed Ian’s interpretation of this character Especially the delivery of the “sign off ” of every letter The remaining players complete the staff members of the Marks & Co bookstore, all of whom corresponded to Hanff throughout the 20 year-long friendships. Teresa Ogden, as Cecily, was heart-warming and a pleasure to watch as she talked about her family, and making arrangements for Hanff ’s future visits. Megan Weedon and Tomas Chatterton also gave strong performances as Megan and Bill. The set for this production was simple yet effective, I particularly enjoyed the use of wooden moving crates, which had been disguised throughout act one as a bookcase, and the way they were removed to help aid the scene change without a cumbersome blackout. 84 Charing Cross Road, under the direction of Steve Mallinson, was an extremely enjoyable production. Steve certainly worked hard with the cast to ensure a slick and well-rehearsed presentation for Droylsden Little theatre, and I cannot wait to attend their next production, “Don’t Dress for Dinner”.