Theatre Severn proves real theatre is alive and very very well

Chicken Pox Fox

Donna Disco

Walker Theatre

5/March/2015

When one attends a play with little or no information other than what is written in the Theatre Severn handbook, it is always quite natural to feel a little trepidation. Sometimes it is well founded and one can be trapped in a disastrous piece of twaddle that deserves a place in the Hall of Theatrical Shame! Donna Disco is certainly not one of those shows quite the reverse. This is a piece of Theatre gold.

Presented by Chicken Pox Theatre in association with Live Theatre, Donna Disco tells the story of a poor unfortunate fourteen year old girl who was bullied into a very untimely and tragic death.

However the story, performed by Paula Penman  as the school girl, held strong and potent messages  presenting bullying and its merits from the perspective of its victim; Donna Disco.

It was a tour de force. Penman brilliantly captured the spirit of this lovable all accepting and fun loving teenager and one couldn’t be helped to be drawn on the beauty of the character she had found.

Fulfilling all the criteria for portable theatre (it all has to fit in a van and a car) the show was minimalistically set with just a school desk, a couple of chairs and a standard lamp. But the theatre was in the eyes and the heart and the words of this poor girl whom one couldn’t help but love.

The narrative deals with a teenage girl’s perceptions of life and death. Her take on Cancer that killed her Nan, who incidentally was played resourcefully by a sock puppet on Donna Disco’s right hand, was just so poignant and relatively choking for anyone who has recently lost a relative. It also addressed acceptance of alternative lifestyles, trnsgenderism, homosexuality and relationships. Sounds like a heavy piece of theatre. Not a bit of it!

The sock puppet convention was brilliant and we all enjoyed meeting Donna's mother who appeared on the left hand. She was a a trying sort of woman who ,”lied at funerals,” by forcing tears out from an already exhausted supply.

There was some beautiful  observations  such as the one cited above from writer Lee Mattinson’s pen.There was such inspired observations and some brutally honest views of stuff that we grown-ups push away and find difficulty in talking about . Everything was so candid as the old quote suggest, “from the mouth of babes comes truth.”

Donna Disco is an inspired and clever piece of work. It is pure theatre and confronts some serious issues but with an inquisitive and sanguine point of view.

 Not only should this show be held as a bench mark in live theatre it should also be held up as a beacon amongst the genre of one woman shows.

Simply Brilliant!

This is a four star review.

Owen Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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