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Mad Cow ReviewerReviews

Here are some reviews of our previous productions.

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Review - Blithe Spirit

Ghosts, séances, trances and plenty of spirit – the curtain has risen on a really ‘super’-natural production at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn.

Mad Cow Productions – Blithe Spirit at Theatre Severn Mad Cow Productions – Blithe Spirit at Theatre Severn Mad Cow Productions’ version of the Noel Coward comedy Blithe Spirit has started its five show run in the Walker Theatre, and comes hot on the heels of their sell-out stage show The Full Monty.

It is not the Shropshire amateur theatre group’s first foray into Coward’s work, and just like the hugely successful Present Laughter last year – their version of a Coward classic captures all the playwright’s wit and flamboyance – and some.

It is a play that the director Alex Hinton has said she had wanted to do for many years – but had always put it to one side because of the small cast, until now. And last night’s audience was rather delighted that she did.

Blithe Spirit was hauntingly fabulous.

“My cast has enjoyed Coward’s wit and wisdom, and I have thoroughly enjoyed guiding them through and watching them develop their roles,” said Alex.

That enjoyment was evident, as the cast of seven immersed themselves in Coward’s wonderful characters – Ellie Giblin as the strait-laced Ruth Condomime; Joe Phillips as her novelist husband Charles; while Barbara Vesty was effervescent as the eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati and Donatella Butt’s ghostly performance as the moody and impatient Elvira was supernaturally splendid.

The Mad Cow attention to detail both in the costumes, make-up and the fabulous set helped to set the scene, and the intimacy of the Walker Theatre made us feel right at home in the 1930s living room at socialites Charles and Ruth’s house.

It began with a séance with Madame Arcati for the purpose of research for a novel that Charles was writing – but it backfires and inadvertently leads to the appearance of his first wife, Elvira who died seven years before and was now a ghost.

The audience was taken on a journey of hilarious twists and turns, with dollops of ectoplasm, several more séances and copious amounts of dry martinis and brandy as Elvira made desperate efforts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to second wife Ruth – who could not see her!

Unmissable if you love Coward. Mad Cow Production’s version of Blithe Spirit runs until Saturday night in the Walker Theatre at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury.

Review by Claire Dunn

Mad Cow Productions – Blithe Spirit at Theatre Severn By Shropshire Live - October 19, 2018

Read the full article via Shropshire Live at: https://www.shropshirelive.com/slider/2018/10/19/review-mad-cow-productions-blithe-spirit-at-theatre-severn/

Review - The Full Monty

Mad Cow Production’s amateur version of the Broadway hit The Full Monty certainly put the sizzle into sizzling at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury!

It had everything. Hot performances, hot lighting, hot music, hot choreography – and ‘hot’ men of all different shapes and sizes clad only in teeny, tiny, thongs! Phew – there was no holding back – it certainly was a ‘full monty’ production!

They say that fortune favours the bold and this was without doubt, the Shropshire theatrical herd’s best and most daring production to date – from the staging to the subject matter. And the public responded – sell-out shows in the main auditorium at Theatre Severn, and standing ovations. It’s sold out status meant that the Herd was gifted two professionals from London to help with the production – upcoming Lighting Designer Dan Saggers and Andy Hinton as Sound Designer (taking a one week break from a run at The Royal Court).

The musical version of The Full Monty is based on the British smash hit starring Robert Carlyle, only it is Americanized and based in small backwater town Buffalo. It follows the highs and mainly lows of six unemployed steelworkers who decide to present a strip act at their local club after seeing the reactions of their wives to a touring production of the Chippendales. There is, however, one massive difference – the Buffalo boys were going further – performing the full monty!

The show leads us through the twists and turns of emotions as best friends Jerry Lukowski (Mathew Robinson) and Dave Bukatinsky (Jez Mann) recruit to their act to earn a quick buck so that Jerry can continue to see his son. Their friendship is wonderfully portrayed – warm, funny and believable. The scenes as Jerry and Dave recruited to their ‘cause’ were the some of the best in the whole production – genuinely laugh-out-loud funny with some superb acting in various stages of undress!

The cast was perfectly cast – with polished performances from ‘the women’ including Heidi Brown as Georgie, Natalie Watts as Vicki and Anette Edge as Jeanette on a set that was worthy of a Broadway production.

This whole show is all about friendship and camaraderie, and I have a feeling that this sums up the Mad Cows in general – an amateur theatre company with very professional standards.

And to answer one burning question – director Alex Hinton has confirmed that ‘the brave six’ did what it said on the tin at the show’s finale – and whipped off the hats that were protecting their modesty. We, the audience, would never have known thanks to the very clever lighting that ‘flashed’ just at the right time!

So hats off to those that took their hats off!

Review by Claire Dunn

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. This may be an amateur theatre group in name, but definitely not in presentation.

Present Laughter is slick and professional. In true Mad Cow fashion, producers Alex Hinton and Lisa Lowarch have pulled out all the stops on the scenery and the costumes – all of which are suitably ‘Broadway’. That it is staged in Theatre Severn’s intimate Walker Theatre adds to the ‘drawing room’ feel of this production – and we, the audience, are gladly eavesdropping on Garry’s chaotic life.

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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