REVIEW: Cast puts heart into Tin Woman

The Tin Woman
The Tin Woman

The Tin Woman, Burgess Hill Theatre Club

It is rare to see a perfect performance of amateur theatre but the superb cast of The Tin Woman achieved just that for Burgess Hill Theatre Club in the play’s UK debut.

The little theatre in Church Walk was full of pathos, dark humour, cheap quips, tears, and moments of great joy as Vicky-Jane Gooding’s sensitive but finely-honed direction produced one of the greatest productions of this long-established club.

The intimate atmosphere suited the deeply personal tone of the play admirably, and anyone in the audience who had lost a loved one must have been greatly moved.

A split stage was used deftly to shift the beautifully delivered dialogue from a heart donor recipient delivered from death to the distraught family of the young man whose heart was donated after a fatal crash.

All six of the cast were stars in a performance that carried no passengers in terms of commitment and concentration, without a single prompt throughout a difficult but rewarding play, using American accents.

The excellent Hannah Wilson drew sympathy and admiration as the heartbroken mother Alice, soaking up the anger and frustration of husband Hank, so vividly played by Des Fitzpatrick that you feared for poor Alice during his shouting sessions.

Natalie Howe as heart recipient Joy was indeed just that, a joy to watch as she rose from her hospital bed to question the validity of her own survival in totally convincing fashion, at one time piercing the hearts of the audience with a desperate: “I’m a freak”.

An immaculate and funny Daisy Hook as Sammy kept the audience in lighter mood at times, while, as faithful friend Darla, Carolyn Chinn hammered some home truths into Joy, using a mix of bluntly direct language and slick one-liners. In her spare time on stage Daisy, in a dual role as a nurse, also showered bed-ridden Joy with well-meant wisecracks that threatened to overwhelm the patient.

Andy Squires, as the deceased Jack hovering ghost-like in the background, was busy doing nothing very well most of the evening. Like a bored goalkeeper in a 6-0 win he was occasionally brought into dramatic action in flashbacks, some using clever double-tracking lines with other cast members. His fractious final confrontation with his father before he died was a moment any parent would dread, with loud-mouthed Hank forever regretting his parting: “You go to hell.”

Based on a true story, this UK debut of the play supported the Live Life Give Life charity to encourage people to sign for organ donation.

The subject could have been mawkish, but in the hands of this cast it was simply marvellous.

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