STAGE REVIEW: Canary @ Gosforth Civic Theatre (30.11.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Thirty minutes is all it took for Canary to intoxicate its cheering audience. A barnstorming tour de force concealed a minimalist set behind the suspension of disbelief where the willing audience, yours truly included, were transported into the factory with war-time bomb-makers Agnes, Anne and Betty – three very different women recruited to support the effort from home. Fast-paced, stomping and funny, the three actors harnessed rich material and found a way to inform and entertain en masse for a rip-roaring opening half…

… then it all just sort of stopped. The story sees our hardworking heroines making the means for war with bonhomie and expertise before an air raid locks them down in darkness waiting for the all clear. The feminist message is diluted by strange creative decisions; the women gratuitously kiss during time passing games of truth and dare, and there’s a confusing strip of overalls all whilst awaiting permission from an unseen male voice to take back control, and the high energy ‘Dad’s Army’ evoking opening collapses into a slow nothingness, clumsily bookended with jarring high drama.

Perhaps it was the strength of the first half that caused the second to crumble from my perspective but I left disappointed, which was a shame because the subject matter was interesting and the performers could really make it land. Agnes actor Katie Tranter has a commanding presence and stood out while fellow leads Robyn Hambrook and Alys North worked hard but ultimately I feel Canary is one for theatre purists in a stacked Armistice centenary arts programme.

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