MIRIAM ON 34TH STREET: Dan Hagley
Old Joint Stock TheatreMI
Runs: 1h 15m, no interval until 18 December
0121 200 0946 for show nights
Review: Rod Dungate, 8 December 2010
Seasonal warmth in a life-affirming production.
Dan Hagley’s new play is a truly heart-warming affair. An unusual fivesome are at the play’s centre – a son, his wife, their baby, a fourth person we never see, and the son’s mother, Miriam, making her first trip out of England to New York to see family, and specially her granddaughter.
As Michael and widowed Miriam reveal secrets to each other the true nature of the play’s relationships are revealed. The play’s a bit rough around the edges; but this is fine. Somehow it suits the family presented to us; this isn’t a story about violins-playing romantic love, but about a group of imperfect people who find they can rub along with each other much more for better than worse. That’s why it’s so heart warming.
The acting is sometimes a trifle big for the small space, but having said that, there is a strong sense of ensemble – itself reflecting the play’s central concerns.
Alison Belbin makes a lovely Miriam, larger than life and with a passion for A L-Webber’s musicals. She has great style with some of the play’s best one-liners: ‘I can pay – I got some dollars from the Co-op travel.’ She also mines the depth of the character, too; but then Miriam is the best written part.
Hagley himself appears as Michael and with Rina Mahoney as wife Kathy – both giving friendly and sparky performances.
This little gem of a play is deftly directed by Jenny Stephens with some moments as true as you get and others as joyously camp as a row of new tents.
Miriam: Alison Belbin
Michael: Dan Hagley
Kathy: Rina Mahoney
Directed by: Jenny Stephens
Sound and visuals edited by: Liam Walsh
Graphic Design:Sheldon Bayley