An audience with Doreen. Just too good to miss.

Sometimes, every now again, comes a phenomenon that as a theatre critic one simply cannot miss. Such was , “An audience wth Doreen.” The show has become an internet sensation with over one and a quarter million hits. That in anyone’s reckoning is quite a lot of views.

To catch up with the show I had to leave Shrewsbury and go to the Theatre on The Steps in Bridgnorth, it would have been nice had they incorporated Theatre Severn in the extended tour but it wasn’t too far a stretch to go and see the most entertaining show that I have seen in a very, very long time.

Written by David Tristam and starring Gill Jordan the play tracks the life and times of Doreen a West Midlands lady who unfortunately suffers with L.A.S. (Lazy arse syndrome) and as a consequence will not work claiming that the condition is hereditary and her family suffers terribly for it.She chooses instead, to hold it all together with benefits, which quite rightly, exasperates the local benefits office as Doreen has put down jobs that she just can’t possibly get.  That is until they find her one and given Hobson’s choice about whether to take the job or go without her money she is forced into labouring. Naturally it doesn’t last long.

Spoken in the West Midlands dialect, reminiscent of Dolly Allen or Anuk and Eli, the show bravely and hilariously explores all the social issues that affect us all in Britain today.

Tristam’s pen holds no fear as he explores benefit fraud, life, death, Immigration and existence in what used to be known as working class Britain. Doreen is a dishonourable scrounger but even when given those facts, one can’t help but love her.

Using a brilliant combination of video clips and live action the play is a pot-pouri of characters each with a story to tell and a determination to tell it. Offering a wonderful showcase for Ms. Jordan’s talent the question that presents itself is when will they be playing to a wider TV audience?

As one settled into the narrative it is obvious that as a writer Tristam knows exactly how to deal with issues in a bright and funny way. The comedy was not false or strained but actually rib-ticklingly hilarious.

With an absolutely stunning support cast one can see this show playing forever if it so needed to. I am informed that in fact Doreen will appear again in the New Year and will be playing larger arenas. Five hundred seater auditoriums in fact. They will fill wherever they go. This is relevant, fresh , honest and funny view of life. It is my prediction that this whole wave of Doreen popularity will increase to tsunami proportions as next year the company, Flying Ducks Theatre, will launch Doreen onto the big screen. I for one, can’t wait for that.

The show opens with a wonderful piece of film of England with Churchill’s, “fight them on the beaches,” speech.  Juxtaposed with shots of the 2011 riots and the rising aggressions showed amongst the disillusioned one is forced to ask; where was the land that Churchill spoke of? Where was the British spirit and why are so many disenfranchised and angry?

But the genius writing led the audience to answer that question themselves as they worked together to laugh at adversity and understand that this is currently the status quo in modern day England. However when an audience can work together in such a way it gives a microcosm of the British community spirit and in fact, the ability to laugh at ourselves is one of the greatest British traits.

That ability is exploited to the max as this brilliant show prods and pokes fun at  our society and we as an audience just hooted. There,Mr. Churchill, is the land that was fought over in both world wars,  and if people say things have changed beyond all recognition, one could argue that that’s not the case at all. As long as we can still laugh at our society we aren’t lost as a nation but instead we are all still together. We share goals , dreams and aspirations and can laugh at the most unlikeliest of times. Doreen is a social comment made in a very British way.

 Jacky Fellows, Darren Haywood, Emma Rollason and Rob Phillips are to be commended for their superb characterisation too and together with Ms. Jordan make this piece an incredibly exciting and hilarious view of 21st century Elizabethan life.

This critic believes that this show has the ability to bring our own special West Midlands humour, which to date is largely ignored by the media in general, to a wider audience and places like Dudley, Wolverhampton. Tipton and Gornal will become as known for their diversity and hilarity as much as Glasgow, Liverpool or Belfast and the country will get to hear of these places and feel  pride in the quintessential Britishness of the whole area.

The Black Country has always been misunderstood by the country at large. Called so by Queen Victoria; she wasn’t talking of desperation and poverty, she was talking about the general blackness put out by the factories that were working pell mell to provide a growing world with the materials it needed to do so. So paradoxically the Queen was seeing a land of heavy industry, full employment, prosperity and fortune. What would she call it now one wonders.

David Tristam has given Doreen to the nation and I believe theatrically it is the best gift we have received in a very long time.

If you haven’t joined the Doreen phenomenon as yet check out Dorren. TV or see the clip on You Tube and beome part of the growing 1 million 275 thousand that already have,

This is a five star review. 

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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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