"Fun, thrills and freaky friends!"
by Dorothy Billing for remotegoat on 30/10/17

Review of "Penny Dreadful". Aberkenfig Library, Bridgend.

Sarah Ratheram makes her mark playing several characters, in this spooky tale of thrills and chills set in Victorian England. The first character, Old Mother Drabstock introduces herself to us. Resplendent in a black gown and white apron she is suitably ghoulish as she takes us to the evil world of Mrs Lovett, maker of suspiciously good pies, and accomplice to the notorious killer Sweeney Todd, whose spirit still lingers in the confines of her grim pie shop.

Switching a handful of accessories and adding them to her main outfit, Sarah smoothly slips in and out of different characters with ease. With each transformation she takes on the physical nuances, accents and vocal changes which are delightful to see. Although there are no sound effects, she actively engages the audience by inviting them to make the necessary noises. A door creaking open, a wolf howling, a cat's miaow. This also adds to the fun!

Shadowy lighting helps to create a dark and brooding ambiance, lighting up Sarah's gruesome make up perfectly, in this part theatrical, part story telling performance.
She makes good use of the space available to her and keeps the momentum going with humorous quips, incorporating some of the audience members's less than perfect screams or wails into the play itself.

Aimed mainly at a younger audience this still had the adults chuckling in their seats. At just under an hour's duration it enabled Sarah to set the scene, and the pace of the performance was neither too slow nor too fast. The quality of the acting was very good, but the addition of some background music and sound effects, perhaps at the beginning and towards the end, would have really enhanced what was already a credible performance.

This was entertaining, interactive and very enjoyable. You're going to love Mrs Lovett and her freaky friends! Definitely worth seeing.

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