I’m guilty of going to see ‘Butterflies are Free’ on opening night. I’ll be honest, I went because I wanted to support director, Maggie Campbell, with whom I had many a laugh in her production of ‘As You Like It’ a few years ago (here’s a link to the performance diaries if you don’t believe me). I knew nothing of the play, and I thought going on the opening night would give me the chance to dodge posting a review under the excuse that it isn’t fair to judge any production on the first performance.
Well blimey Bijou Theatre Productions have slipped something special under the radar here, and if you don’t get to the Palace Theatre, Paignton, this week (the play runs from Wednesday 10 to Saturday 13 February 2016), then you can’t say I didn’t try to get you there.
This is a coming of age story, with a bit of romance, a bit of heartbreak and a taste of a world very few of us have to think about. The stand out performance comes from Peter Hubble as Don Baker, a man described in the programme as having more than his fair share of problems. No spoilers here, but this character is a gift of a part for any young man wanting to take on a role that offers the chance to showcase his talents, and Hubble seizes the opportunity with both hands. Local actors will want to see this sensitive, warm and groovy character.
Don’s world is turned upside down when his neighbour, Jill Tanner, played by Katie Daymond, arrives on the scene. The first act is virtually a two-hander, as these two meet and begin to get to know each other. It is all very young, very funny and very absorbing. You’re taken into their apartment and the story never sags. The energy is wonderful and the pair have a great chemistry on stage.
In the second act we see the consequences of the arrival of Don’s mother to events. Mrs Baker is played by Anna Reynolds, who brings a mixture of some of the best laughs to the night, together with those scenes that always get me, as mother cuts the apron strings – agony to watch and beautifully played.
There’s a wonderful cameo from Joe Mortlock as Ralph Austin, who enters the apartment for such a short while, but that he is blind to what is going on around him only adds to the humour. His exchanges with Mrs Baker are a treat and he makes the most of them.
It’s a small and capable cast who offer value for money with great material. I can’t help but think that my week is better for seeing this.
Last review for Bijou Theatre Productions: Quartet
Last review from the Jolly Lion: Angels in America