The Usherettes

This romp through the bygone days of grand movie theatres and classic films is brought to us by Jean (Karen Levick) and Pearl (Helen Wood). After a string of failed jobs, 40-something Pearl begins first day working as an usherette at the Regal Cinema, a cinema that has resisted change and is now struggling to attract the audiences it needs. Head usherette Jean has made her life in this cinema and is proud of the advanced ushering skills she has refined over her three decades working there – and never an ice cream dropped. With the cast smartly outfitted in red and gold jackets and caps there is indeed a retro feel, although the play is set in present day.

Although they could further polish some places, this comedy duo have great personas onstage.

Levick and Wood perform a series of sketches from notable films – including Hitchcock’s Rebecca, Orson Welles’ The Third Man ­and Coward’s Brief Encounter – interspersed between scenes as their day at work unfolds. This is no ordinary day for the Regal Cinema, featuring confessions of romantic intentions, trouble with a loo (a historically listed cistern) and a threat to Jean’s very way of life.

As we switch between scenes and the film sketches, audio of advertisements and trailers for the film we are about to see are played. This is amusing and covers necessary set and costume changes well, although the structure becomes repetitive after a while. Some of these changes could be streamlined slightly, but more distracting was the sound of Velcro unpeeling backstage. Despite this, props were used effectively, particularly the amusing costumes in the Brief Encounter sketch.

Although they could further polish some places, this comedy duo have great personas onstage. It’s clear they have been working together some time and have an excellent rapport. Their comic timing, physicality and facial expressions are excellent; this fun frolic through film is endearing and chuckle-inducing.

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Performances

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The Blurb

Delightful new comedy packed with infectiously funny cinema and classic film nostalgia. Take your seat at The Regal, a traditional style cinema. As the reels start turning for today's presentation of classic British film clips, it soon becomes evident that the cinema's future is in jeopardy. Can two hapless usherettes come to the rescue? This original, inventive show serves up colourful characters, tubfuls of emotion and plenty of pre-lunch laughter. 'A real talent for comedy ... leaving the whole audience in stitches. Clever work with props and costumes. The capacity audience certainly lapped it all up' (StroudNewsandJournal.co.uk).