It is always an interesting experience seeing a new work, since there is no road map to what might follow. It must be similarly interesting for those producing such a work to place their mark on something so pristine and new.

The Last Talent Show, the comedy/drama written by John Quinn and Barry Tracey, is mainly set back-stage on the grand finale night of a talent show and is as much a rumination about fame and celebrity in the modern era as about talent or entertainment. The premise is explored with a degree of charm and wit and performed with great enthusiasm by the ensemble cast.

The production has succeeded very effectively in meeting the challenge of designing a set with no set and providing space for a play within the back-stage setting. There is a clever use of the auditorium space to create two distinct spaces (back-stage and on stage) and to facilitate a real sense of movement from one arena to the other public space.

It is early days and the production still had a slightly unfinished feel about it, as if it was not quite totally gelled.  There were amusing set pieces as we met a variety of the acts, but the first felt a bit fragmentary and uneven: it was only in the second half that it seemed to gain a greater momentum and flow.

The performances were solid. However, there were still a few fluffed lines, the delivery of certain characters that felt a little tentative and some distracting accents that strayed rather too many degrees on the compass from the place of supposed origin. Where the characters went “big”, they certainly made an impression. So take a bow Leanne Wilkins as the traffic warden Rose Royce, Carol Ings as the singer Agnes Arbuthnot, Georgie Burton as Bobby Benjamin, the host with the annoying catch phrase making his entertainment return, and Kristy Hepworth as Mike “the Mountie” Archer, the debt collector and aspiring drummer, who was one of the highlights of the second half.  Oh and of course Princess the chicken who made fleeting but memorable appearances.

An amusing and entertaining piece that despite not quite yet reaching its peak went down well with the audience on the night that I attended.

Karen Robson

The Last Talent Show 2019 Review