LIGHTHOUSE, camera, action!
It’s Pride and Prejudice meets Billy Elliot meets Usual Suspects – with a nod to Cheryl Cole and a soupcon of the Likely Lads thrown in.
Amazing Grace is the latest outing by Trevor Wood and Ed Waugh, they of Dirty Dusting fame.
There was a slight snag in spinning the great North East story of Grace Darling into a play. As Wood puts it: “Before the rescue very little happened, and after it Grace pretty much became a recluse”.
Waugh and Wood’s idea to get round this problem was to write it as a play within a play. Or, to be more precise, a film within a play.
Grace Armstrong (Catherine Dryden) is a plucky farmer’s daughter with movie-star looks who does what Waugh and Wood couldn’t, and writes a script on the life of Darling. She then persuades arrogant director Barry Charlton (Sean Wildey) to take it on as a project.
Disaster lurks round every corner as producers and backers frown at the inherent plot and character concerns, demanding fictionalised sex scenes, unsuitable stars and liberal amounts of “artistic” licence.
As with Waugh and Wood’s other work, Amazing Grace provokes laughter, thought and intrigue while capturing the essence of North East culture on both overt and deeply subtle levels.
Clever use of a projection screen and pre-filmed sections adds piquancy to the production and aids the cinematic theme of the play, but is perhaps not used as much as it could have been.
Some of the early scenes in the play are perhaps a little long, and while the interesting ending no doubt took me by surprise, I’m still pondering whether or not it was a nice surprise.
Overall, though, this was another enjoyable, thought-inspiring production from Wood and Waugh.