No Love Lost
Venue: Wrexham Studio Theatre
This play, written by Rony Robinson, was commissioned by BT as part of their Biennial Celebrations, and Tip Top's production was sponsored by the Lottery fund of the Arts Council of Wales.
"Max Johnson" - Stephen Davies
"Kate", his wife - Sally Lloyd
"Anna", their daughter - Fiona Vickery
"Emma", their younger daughter - Tracey Locke
"Grans", Kate's mother - Barbara McKay
"Gramps", Kate's father - Fred Evans
"Noon", a therapist - Marion Bibby
"Jeff", a car dealer - Mark Newman
"Frank", a shop assistant - Simon Phillips
Director - Derek Martin
Stage Manager - Chrissy Evans
Set Design - Allan Forrest
Sound & Lighting - Paul Edwards, Richard Llewellyn, James Manley
Props - Barbara Hodgson
Having made a name for itself as a superb company for presenting musicals, Tip Top Productions has now established itself as presenting plays as well. The latest offering was "No Love Lost", the second of the BT Biennial plays seen in Wrexham over the past week.
In some respects it was an unusual play in that in the first act, the time sequence went backwards from June to Christmas, and in the Second act it covered the same time span but from Christmas to June. It was a story of friction between three generations; grandparents, parents and children. The parents separate as do the grandparents and caught in the middle are two daughters.
The first act is set in the fathers flat, while the second is in the wife's flat.
Stephen Davies as the husband and Sally Lloyd as his estranged wife, gave powerful performances throughout. Barbara McKay and Fred Evans (good to see him on stage again) were excellent, as were the daughters, Fiona Vickery and Tracy Locke making splendid debuts with the company.
The comedy was delightfully supplied by Simon Phillips as the puritan boyfriend and Mark Newman as the car mad car salesman. Marion Bibby, another first timer with the company, was superb as the therapist. Her hand movements and actions were extremely amusing. The play was presented in the studio theatre of Yale College, which limited the change of scenery, but director Derek Martin made the best of the situation, and the result was another success for the company.
Irene Rostron (Amateur Stage Magazine)
Tip Top Productions, a free-lance company acclaimed for it's famous LA CAGE AUX FOLLES at Theatr Clwyd and twice at Chester's Gateway Theatre, scaled down to a more intimate size in their regular venue, Yale College's studio theatre, for Rony Robinson's NO LOVE LOST.
With nothing more than the absolute minimum of props and furnishing, set on the flat, black-draped open 'stage' of the studio theatre, the steeply-tiered seating rising above, the company gave us an exhilarating evening. Casting at strength throughout, the performance fairly bubbled along.
There are multiple scenes, but as Act I takes place in one apartment, and Act II in another, there is no break in continuity, the characters of Max (Act I) and his wife Kate (Act II) carrying us back or forward in time with witty linking audience-asides - as Max changed his DL easel-held flip chart and Kate her music-hall act boards. Robinson's characters are vividly drawn, from the theatricality of amateur thespian Kate to the withdrawn flute-playing Emma - the three generations of this totally dysfunctional family could teach the Royals a thing or two! Robinson's dialogue is particularly well character-oriented, giving them a three-dimensional quality, which the company brought to splendid life under the direction of Yale College drama tutor, Derek Martin.
Led by the lugubrious but witty Stephen Davies as Max and Sally Lloyd as a vivacious and pithy Kate, this was ensemble comedy playing of a high order, yet the radiance of the closing 'Shakespearean' matchmaking was beautifully captured, and the play was delightfully appreciated by an enthusiastic audience.