Tag Archives: Joseph Ed Thomas

I Do! I Do!


Upstairs at the Gatehouse

I do I do

I Do! I Do!

Upstairs at The Gatehouse

Reviewed – 30th October 2019



“consistently entertaining and extremely well delivered: a successful fusion of music and narrative that makes for a compassionate study of the miracle of love”


Spanning half a century and featuring just two actors, this is a charming adaptation of a 1966 Broadway musical that was based on Jan de Hartog’s 1951 play, The Fourposter. Directed and produced by Joseph Hodges, this new version revives the timeless tale of a marriage in all its stages.

We join Michael and Agnes in their bedroom on their wedding night, young and very much in love but also inexperienced and nervous at the prospect of spending their lives together. Fast-forwarding through the years to reveal the progression of their relationship, the show alternates between dramatic vignettes and vibrant, clever songs.

Gemma Maclean and Ben Morris carry the entire performance, animated and energetic enough to fill the stage by themselves. They are accompanied only by musical director Henry Brennan, who offers dextrous live keyboard interpretations of the songs by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones.

The unfussy-but-detailed set design by Emily Bestow wisely puts the bed at its centre, flanked by a dressing table on the left and a writing desk (Michael is a novelist) and chaise longue on the right.

There’s subtle humour and plenty of warmth, but – keeping sentimentality at bay – there are also barbed observations and arguments. One of the funniest moments, built around the song ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, shows the bickering couple reading from pre-prepared lists of each other’s faults. We learn that she wears cold cream in bed, while he makes a strange sucking noise in his sleep. There’s also an amusing running joke about a ‘God is love’ pillow that Agnes is fond of and which Michael cannot stand…

The scenes flow sequentially but the plot strands aren’t always resolved. Instead, each scene presents a new snapshot of their lives. This was a little frustrating in the case of the bombshell that ends the first half. You really want to find out how they respond to this crisis, and then… time marches on and it’s as if that scene never happened. Yet despite this slightly disjointed aspect, the narrative gives Michael and Agnes surprising emotional depth. Indeed, the ups and downs of their journey through marriage are frequently poignant and touching. We join them as they encounter the joys and fears of parenthood. We witness the rise of Michael’s writing career and see how his success affects them both differently. And we observe their mixed feelings at their daughter’s wedding as the whole cycle begins again.

If there’s a flaw it’s that the show supposedly spans the 50 years from 1890 to 1940 – a period encompassing World War I and the start of World War II – but you get little or no sense of wider events unfolding beyond the walls of their bedroom. Instead, the focus is on how time passes for the couple, which makes perfect sense given the theme, but it does seem like a missed opportunity to infuse their situation with additional gravity.

That minor point aside, it’s consistently entertaining and extremely well delivered: a successful fusion of music and narrative that makes for a compassionate study of the miracle of love.


Reviewed by Stephen Fall

Photography by Kevin Ralph


I Do! I Do!

Upstairs at The Gatehouse until 16th November


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Kafka’s Dick | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nice Work if You Can Get It | ★★★★ | December 2018
Bad Girls The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
Strike Up The Band | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Marvelous Wonderettes | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flat Out | ★★★★ | June 2019
Agent 14 | | August 2019
Pericles, Prince Of Tyre | ★★★ | August 2019
Working | ★★★★ | September 2019
A Modest Little Man | ★★★★ | October 2019


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Review of Miracle on 34th Street – 5 Stars


Miracle on 34th Street:
A Live Musical Radio Play

Bridge House Theatre

Reviewed – 29th November 2017


“Richard Albrecht’s portrayal of Kris Kringle is absolutely spot-on  I refuse to believe he isn’t actually Santa Claus”


Do you believe in Santa Claus? Experience Guy Retallack’s production of this festive tale and I have no doubt that you will. 

The show is framed as a radio play within a play, with the six actors seated in a row at the back of the stage. Set in a recording studio the cast shares two microphones at the front, but this does not cause the performers to become static. In fact, their ability to weave around each other and perform energetic numbers around the microphone stands is what makes the show so uniquely entertaining.

The creative team have achieved so much with what is on face value, so little in terms of staging a Christmas spectacle. Props (Fiona Martin) are minimal and used mainly to indicate changes in character or provide “radio” sound effects. There are clever touches like a flashing ‘ON AIR’ sign and a station logo on the backdrop. Lighting (Joseph Ed Thomas) is used well to transition between busy scenes and more intimate conversations.

It’s hard to pick a standout member of the cast when everyone’s performances were of such a high standard. Richard Albrecht’s portrayal of Kris Kringle is absolutely spot-on I refuse to believe he isn’t actually Santa Claus. Jamie Ross deserves high praise for his role as the Announcer and as the Musical Director. He narrates, provides sounds effects and musical accompaniment, with a voice and mannerisms so period appropriate he seems to have stepped out of a time machine and on to the stage. Lowenna Melrose (Doris Walker) and Ellis Dackombe (Fred Gailey) are powerful performers with excellent chemistry as the romantic leads. All the cast members take on more than one role, with Amy Reitsma delivering a wide range of characters with equal brilliance.

The musical numbers were impressive and helped to quicken the pace of a dialogue heavy piece. Carols are given a 1940s makeover with original songs provided by Jon Lorenz. Emily Carewe’s (Susan Walker) rendition of a number about believing in Kris Kringle is a particularly touching moment.

Personal highlights were the West-Side Story inspired version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ during a tense confrontation scene, the 1940s-esque radio adverts for local businesses (shout-out to the Bluebelle Café!), and a musical ode to the US Postal service.

A perfect balance of heart-warming and entertaining, this show was so brilliant I forgot it wasn’t actually being transmitted to the nation!



Reviewed by Ella McCarron

Photography by Nick Rutter



Miracle on 34th Street

is at the Bridge House Theatre until 23rd December



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