THEATRE REVIEW: ‘Taking Steps’, Grange Arts Centre, Oldham

A scene from Taking Steps

A scene from Taking Steps

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WHILE the lovely old theatre the Coliseum in Oldham is being refurbished, the company are putting on productions in a variety of venues, chief of which is the Grange Arts Centre, not very far away.

Artistic director Kevin Shaw has chosen Alan Ayckbourn’s classic farce “Taking Steps” to put on in this theatre in the round (or more precisely square). Ayckbourn originally wrote it for his Scarborough theatre in the round and indeed much of the humour and amazing visual gags depend upon this.

A scene from Taking Steps

A scene from Taking Steps

An ex-dancer (Jackie Morrison) is planning to leave her wealthy alcoholic husband (John McAndrew) while her boring brother (Ben Porter) tries to prevent her. The situation is complicated by a confused young solicitor (Antony Eden), plus a builder (Martin Miller) who is desperate to secure the lucrative contract and the pathetic former fiancée (Maeve Larkin) of the boring brother.

All are confined in an old house, supposedly haunted by a dead prostitute and the action takes place in the sitting room, the master bedroom above, and the attic above that. How designer Michael Holt and the wonderfully accomplished cast achieve this on a flat surface is amazing and hilarious.

This is a delight of an evening, filled with laughter. Director Robin Herford was in the original production and recalls his difficulty in preventing himself from “corpsing” because the script was so funny. This cast performs with aplomb and terrific acrobatic skill.

In March the Company are taking an innovative new production of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” on tour, starting in Huddersfield, but it will be coming to The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, later. Then, back at the Grange Arts Centre, my two favourite comics, LipService are (appropriately) bringing back “Move Over Moriarty”, followed by the co-production with the Octagon of “Alfie”. The Company will return to the Coliseum in the autumn and the panto will go on, thank goodness!

Until March 10th, box office: 0161 6242829

PIPPA MUNRO HEBDEN