Review: Gavin and Stacey

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We’ve seen Gav and Stace on our screens for years and now they’re in Durham Assembly Rooms. Ooook! Productions turn our theatre into a sitcom-esque delight with their production of Gavin and Stacey, adapted and directed by and Jacob Vellucci. I had high hopes as a fan of BBC television series and was intrigued as to how their adapted script would fare and the casting they chose. Phillips and Vellucci’s script is certainly impressive, with plenty of gags and opportunities for comedic timing, as well as some more endearing characterisation of the characters, including Smithy and Pam. A band, excellently led by Musical Director Freya Hartley, at the back of the stage, mimics the musical interludes between the scenes. This is a refreshing element to the piece of theatre, rendering it a bridge between play and musical.

The set is fabulously executed, with the space used well to allow for a neat transition between home, nightclub and London’s Leicester Square where our titular couple first meet. I enjoyed Jacob Marshall, and ’s use of the fly system to drop pieces of set down onto the stage which adds an element of professionalism and intrigue to the sitcom play. A swaying window was the only set mishap!

A band, excellently led by Musical Director Freya Hartley, at the back of the stage, mimics the musical interludes between the scenes

The actors’ characterisation is heart-warming and Phillips and Vellucci’s casting is thoughtfully done. Ellie Davies’ Stacey is just as ecstatic and smiley as BBC’s Joanna Page, and is a pleasing watch, delivering his lines with confidence, and conveying Gavin’s bravado and charm well. I particularly enjoy Alex Edwards’ Smithy, whose body language and comedic timing make him a hit on stage, with a really good chemistry with ’s Nessa, who has a great costume. is a very well-characterised Pam, capturing both her Essex twang and hysteria. ’s character of Bryn stands out and allows his character to come out of any interaction, and captures her character’s, Gwen, facial expressions well.

There are some musical numbers, as the cast dance to well-known pop tracks. While this certainly adds a heart-warming feeling to the play, as the audience watches the characters belt it out during a karaoke scene, there were some points in which the choreography felt slightly unnatural. It could be more pleasing to create a naturalistic element in the choreography. When watching the dancing, it sometimes feels that you are watching people enjoy a party that you are not part of. More natural choreography would allow it to fit into the genre that Ooook! have created. Some more characterisation within the dancing and slapstick could work better since the songs are not musical numbers as such, rather some endearing interludes.

The actors’ characterisation is heart-warming and Phillips and Vellucci’s casting is thoughtfully done

The band sits at the back of the stage, which works well, but mainly picks up her drumsticks to play between scenes, and I want more! If there’s a band, it’s a treat and let’s see them shine. Vellucci and Phillips’ direction is predominately wonderful, but at times characters’ lines are rushed and miss the projection needed which means that the punchline is occasionally lost for those at the back of the theatre.

However, this did not detract from a truly endearing performance. The set is created with an artistic eye and is well executed. I am impressed by the dedication of the whole production team for putting this sitcom on stage, and it is certainly an entertaining break from exam revision, as we are transported into the exciting world of our Essex-Welsh love match.

Image credit: Ooook! Productions

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