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J.M. Barrie Quality Street Artwork

All About Theatre three and a half stars review

Quality Street was written by Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in 1901, it is a Regency romantic comedy which was very popular in its day so much so that the popular tined chocolates Quality Streets were actually named after the play.

This Production of Quality Street is brought to you by Northern Broadsides in conjunction with the New Vic Theatre. Northern Broadsides is a company which produces new and classic pays in the "northern voice" meaning they keep their northern accents.

In 2020 the company invited workers from the Halifax chocolate factory which produces the Quality Street chocolates to come and watch the play in rehearsals. They wanted to get the factory workers input on the play and whilst there the factory workers shared some anecdotes about their experiences working in the chocolate factory. Everything the factory workers said was recorded for future reference but the company later decided to use the factory workers observations in the play as they found them to be comical, insightful and authentic. It is the addition of the verbatim observations of the factory workers which gives the show some added humour and I really enjoyed this aspect of the play.

photo of the Quality Street cast at Blackpool Grand Theatre

The play tells the story of the Throssel sisters Phoebe (Paula Lane) and Susan (Louisa -May Parker), who lived on Quality Street at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Phoebe is the younger sister and she is convinced that Valentine Brown (Aron Julius) a Doctor who lives in the village is going to propose to her however when he comes to visit his news in not what she expects as he tells her he is heading off to War. The two sisters later find themselves in financial hardship as an investment made on the recommendation of Mr Brown goes wrong and they end up losing there money, so in order to get by the two sisters set up a school for unruly children.

production shot of the quality street cast

Ten years later Valentine Brown returns from war now a captain and missing a hand, he goes to visit his old friends Phoebe and Susan but when he sees Phoebe he can not hide his dismay at the way she had changed into a drab old maid. Phoebe is hurt by Captain Browns unconcealed feelings and invents a new persona a young girl named Livvy who she believes Captain Brown will find more appealing.

production shot of the quality street cast

The set was designed by Jessica Worral and consisted of a metal frame which I think was to represent the industrial feel of the chocolate factory. Within the metal framework a number of props were used to depict either the sisters home or the ballroom. I think the metal frame work helped to put forward the idea that this was a play within a play and that the play was being put on in the chocolate factory for the factory workers.

photo of the quality street set

The costumes were also designed by Jessica Worral and I thought they were excellent. My favourites were the ones from the ball scene as the dresses looked like they had been inspired by the Quality Street chocolate wrappers, they were brightly coloured and made out of a shiny fabric.

One thing I was not expecting to be in the play was puppets, these were used to represent the children at the Throssel Sisters school. The puppets were made by Beka Haigh and were some of the creepiest looking puppets I have ever seen however I loved them and they brought a few laughs to the play.

production shot of the quality street cast

The Cast for this play were excellent, it's a small cast of 9 with some cast members playing multiple roles. The stand out performers for me were Paula lane as the Lead Phoebe Throssel and Louise-Mary Parker as Susan Throssel. Paula was a joy to watch she switched between her two personas with ease and has excellent comic timing. Louise-Mary Parker was perfect in the role of Susan Throssel as she was able to bring comedy to the character through her facial expressions, this was particularly evident in the "getting rid of Livvy" scene.

photo of the Quality Street cast at Blackpool Grand Theatre

I enjoyed Quality Street but I did feel that the first half was a little slow paced and it took me a while to get in to it however it did pick up pace in the second act and I had a great time.

Quality Street is a perfect Regency comedy with some truly funny scenes excellent costumes and an amazing cast all of witch makes for a fun night out at the theatre.

Quality Street is on at The Grand Theatre Blackpool until 1st July you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the play and see where it will be touring to please click the button below.

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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