Mad Cow ReviewerReviews

Here are some reviews of our previous productions.

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Review - Present Laughter

An aging, movie idol prone to over-acting, glamorous women, seduction and lies – Noel Coward’s comedy classic Present Laughter is wonderfully brought to life at the Theatre Severn.

Shropshire theatre group Mad Cow Productions pulls out all of the stops for its latest production which packs a theatrical punch – it is classy, funny and cleverly acted.

Coward’s classic farce follows the shenanigans of self-obsessed theatre star Garry Essendine with every act is set in his London flat. He is about to embark on a tour of Africa, however, his life has become rather complicated. There’s a posse of women vying for his affections, members of staff having affairs with each other’s wives – and an obsessed playwright from Uckfield who won’t take no for an answer. Inevitably a farce ensues.

It is a gigantic role with big boots to fill, but Sebastian Ashfield effortlessly immerses himself in the role of Garry, capturing his self-centred nature to a tee. Fiona Hankin is perfectly cast as Essendine’s unflappable secretary Monica Reed who refuses to pander to her boss’s egotism; while Emma Hedges warmly brings to life the role of Liz Essendine – Garry’s controlling estranged wife. Credit must also go to Ryan Brown as Garry’s valet, Nikki Holmes as the eccentric Miss Erikson and Ellie Giblin as the minxy Joanna.

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Review - Anything Goes

As soon as the curtain lifted for Anything Goes at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn - I knew I was gonna get a kick out of this one!
A big, big musical production to tackle - but made to look easy by a group of Shropshire's finest amateur thespians. 
Mad Cow Productions has just completed a hugely successful run of Cole Porter's flamboyant and colourful Anything Goes!
And phew, what a dazzling all singing, all dancing cracker it was!
The stage was sensationally transformed into an ocean liner - where most of the action was set. It was like being in the West End (but not of Shrewsbury).
"Did you say this was an amateur show?', whispered someone close by. And that just about sums up this production.
Love, mayhem, comedy, song and skulduggery - oooh this had it all.

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Review - The Hollow

Amateur theatre has (often unfairly) got a bad name for itself. Productions of murder mysteries are particularly dangerous territory, perhaps not as risky as watching a vicar in his 60's have a bash at Algernon Moncrieff (not like that), but a bad murder mystery is a special kind of theatrical hell. Mad Cow Productions most recent outing, however, is no such hell, it isn't even a cause for concern, its got pace, is well staged, subtly acted and above all is a fun night out. Anyone lucky enough to have caught the show on it’s mostly sold out run this week will have been sure to enjoy.

The setup is classic; a glamorous Hollywood star's arrival in a small village has set tongues wagging, a country estate has changed hands, lovers and ex-lovers, friends and foes are gathered at the home of Sir Henry Angkatell for a weekend escape of eating, drinking, reminiscing and pistol practise. What could possibly go wrong...?

Luckily for the audience it's not the production. Curtain up and the set looks great, a classic English drawing room, birdsong gently drifts through an open French window and immediately places you at ease. More touches of a subtle and intelligent design keep coming. Whether it is the lightning whose flashes and thunder follow the correct timing and order of things, or a ringing phone that actually stops ringing when it's picked up. Right from the get go you know creaking doors refusing to close or a wobbly living room wall are not going to be distracting from the drama tonight, leaving the actors and direction in charge.

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Just when you thought they couldn't raise the bar any higher - Shrewsbury's Mad Cow Theatre Productions go and pull another musical triumph out of the bag.

Never ones to shy away from the biggies - their version of the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot raised the roof of Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn during its three day run, and brought hundreds of theatre-goers spontaneously to their feet.

This was amateur theatre truly at its best. That we weren't on Broadway didn't matter a jot.

This delightful production had everything that you would expect from a professional theatre company. Perfect casting - tick. Great comedic timing - tick. Lavish costumes - tick . Fantastic musical accompaniment - the list goes on.

Director Alex Hinton and her fellow Mad Cow co-founder Lisa Lowarch delivered a real showstopper that thoroughly deserved its place on the main stage at Shrewsbury's theatre.

Six months of hard work paid off with an incredibly slick, and colourful production that remained true to the original, hurtling from song to gag, gag to song - keeping the audience, well, rather spellbound.
Fom the transformation of Dennis to Sir Galahad, to the hilarious Knights of Ni, no stone was left unturned, no joke without a laugh. The attention to detail was evident, and the results were hilarious.

It would be unfair to single anyone out for their performance - each stood out on their own merit, however James Ashfield as King Arthur was a delight to watch, having mastered riding a horse - without one.
This show was a total hoot. I left with a clip clop, clip clop in my step. So thank you Mad Cows for the best night out in ages.
Always look on the bright side of life......!

Reviews - The Game's Afoot

Claire Dunn

The Games Afoot


Claps of thunder, cracks of lightning - and a chilling scream.

It can only mean one thing - those Mad Cows are back at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn - and this time with a bang, a gunshot and a whole heap of trouble!

Their curtain has gone up on their latest production - Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot - a clever whodunit with many a delicious twist and turn.

There was murder, mystery, mayhem - and even Moriarty in the West End last night! And the audience joined the impeccable cast on a tumultuous journey to discover just who had dunit!
The play opened in the Walker Theatre - the perfect setting for this drawing room masterpiece. When the curtain rises - we see actor William Gillette - excellently portrayed by teacher Paul Fitzgerald - in full flow on stage as sleuth Sherlock Holmes. But as he takes a bow with the cast as the curtain goes down - a shot rings out, and a bullet hits his arm.

The next time we see him, he is recovering with his mother. It is Christmas Eve and the whole case - including Lucy Billau as Aggie Wheeler, Natalie Wyatt as Madge Geisel and Joe Phillips as Simon Bright - have been invited to join him to celebrate.

But there is more to his invitation than first meets the eye. He is convinced that one of them was behind the attempted murder - and in true Sherlock Holmes fashion - he sets out to uncover the truth, along with a little help from the rather eccentric Inspector Goring - played by Emma Hedges.

And as with every good whodunit - nothing is as it first seems - and then a real murder ensues! But who is the killer?

A rollercoaster ride of detective work, comedy moments and some very clever acting makes this a production that just cannot be missed. All of the cast completely immersed themselves in their roles, right down to the American accents.

Emma Burrows is fabulous as the acid-tongued newspaper columnist Daria Chase - and all credit to the wonderful Barbara Vesty as Martha Gillette - a grandmother on her ninth production with the 'cows'. The scene where William Gillette and his best friend Felix Geisel - played by the fantastic Keith Clements - attempt to hide the victim's body, is hilarious - not to mention the eventual demise of the murder victim!

It's hard to believe that it is the first time on stage for some of the cast - but for this herd of clever so-and-so's, it was merely elementary!