Sunday, 6 November 2016

through the mill

On Saturday 9 July I  went, at the last minute, to the Southwark Playhouse to see Through The Mill, a new play about Judy Garland. It was very well done.



I just decided to go that afternoon; I left the house after twenty to three and got a ticket and in I went (I got a reduced price ticket, which I couldn't work out; looking at the floorplan later the seat number was indicated as a wheelchair seat); it started at three.

It wasn't a musical, but a biographical play with her singing her songs; they had three actresses playing Judy at different points in her life (Lucy Penrose as 30s Judy, Belinda Woolaston as 50s Judy, and Helen Sheals as 60s Judy), with a construction of intercut scenes across the time periods. Interestingly, they didn't look much alike, and certainly none of them were the spitting image of Judy, but each one convinced as Judy while they were on. It was very well written and performed. The cutting between times wasn't confusing, and made it more interesting than a linear telling would have been.

Aside from the three Judies, one of the most impressive things was the doubling - not of actors playing different parts, primarily, but actors playing in the band when they weren't playing an acting role; I've never seen it done to that extent, I think most if not all of the non-Judies played at least one instrument. I don't know if it was financially driven, but it worked very well. I certainly hadn't seen any of the Judies before, and I don't remember that I'd seen any of the others either.

As with some other fringe venues, it's not unusual at the Southwark Playhouse to see the actors afterwards (often quite soon afterwards, often meeting friends in the foyer or outside having a smoke), and I saw Lucy Penrose afterwards and expressed my appreciation. It's nice to be able to do that, although you don't want to be too intense/fannish/creepy... A quick enthusiastic thanks and then I'm off, generally.