September 22, 2008

Son Of Samurai, Stockton Arc

By Viv Hardwick

THE Teesside debut of Geordie playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood is going to give them and ION productions pause for thought.

A well-chosen setting of the venue?s smaller Studio Theatre didn?t attract enough of an opening night audience to buy even one of the excellent fourstrong cast a sushi spread. With audience participation playing an important part in the proceedings of this work, which was destined to be a BBC Radio 4 play, I found myself being urged to assist the sound effects required for a crowded pub scene.

In front of pretend microphones, in old-style BBC radio announcer formal attire, Ian Cunningham leads the line as Newcastle shoeshop salesman, Jack, who discovers his father is a Samurai warrior.

Jim Kitson has the build and ability to deliver the Far Eastaccented antics of the man from Japan with a penchant for excruciating karaoke.

Jill Dellow displays admirable speed of thought switching between Julie, Jack?s love interest, and Mrs Day, his adopted mother. Dylan Edge provides early amusement as the sound man forced to take over a series of roles when ?Alan Smithie? fails to show.

Audience members who agree to help with sound buttons soon learn the error of their ways in this carefullycrafted plot which often goes for the thoughtful chuckle rather than Wood and Waugh?s customary belly laughs.

Perhaps the Japanese pieces of folklore interjected between scenes could have been wackier or funnier, but I think this production was aimed at a very specific market and I?m astonished anyone could say Sayonara to such a novel idea.

Son Of Samurai, Studio Theatre, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, ThursdaySaturday, 08448-1121-21, 7.15pm

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