Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang – Performed By The Trinity Music & Drama Society

Hi everyone and welcome back to another review! 

This time we are actually at a new theatre! I got kindly invited to The Chelmsford Theatre in Chelmsford, Essex! First then, about the show! I went to go see ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ performed by a local drama society ‘The Trinity Music and Drama’ society located in Chelmsford.

The show is based on the well-known classic film of the same name and starts with Caractacus Potts an inventor trying to make a better life for his two children Jeremy and Jemima with their grandpa lending a helping hand where he can. But then one day the Potts family come across Truly Scrumptious the daughter of a well-off sweet factory owner and they instantly have a strong connection as a family. But then things start to go wrong for them and they end up travelling to this strange country with an evil king and queen.

From start to finish you could instantly tell that all the members of the cast were all having immense fun, especially the two children playing the Potts children! Could you tell it was an amateur production, yes. But didn’t it matter not at all! I have always believed that it’s so important to support local groups and societies like this for two reasons. One because this is. where the love for theatre comes from, and it will inspire the next generation of actors/actresses. But also secondly it allows actors who maybe couldn’t have turned professional for whatever reason, or professional actors to take more of a back seat to still continue the one thing they enjoy the most and that’s entertaining audiences. 

On to the accessibility of the show, The show constantly has bright colours and lights, so if you have some useful vision then you will able to see everything that is going on. If you have limited vision or you struggle with bright lights or light bouncing off of objects then you might struggle a little but then the show makes up for it in the fun and laughter it provides the audience. There a two loud pyrotechnics during one scene of the show but that’s all there is. There are slight sounds of cannon fire and one quite gunshot, but the sound effects were not very loud. But something you might to prepare yourself for if you struggle with loud noises. Sadly there is no Audio Description or Touch Tour available, but this was to be expected the show being performed by a local drama group. However, maybe this is something they could possibly look into for future productions? I am of course happy to assist in this, so please do get in touch if this is something you wish to pursue.

A outside shot of the Chelmsford theatre with a red coloured top half with the lego in white. with pink lights going down the walls.

As this is a new venue I have been to, I wanted to touch briefly on the accessibility of the theatre itself. Before arriving at the venue, I notified the venue that I would be bringing my Guide Dog with me, and could they accommodate her whilst I was watching the show with my dog in the box office with staff. They then sent back some questions they wanted me to answer which of course I was more than happy to answer. To which they said they would look after her. On the night, the staff were really welcoming and friendly and loved looking after my dog. I did notice however that the box office was smaller than some other venues I have previously been to so if you are going with a group of more than one Guide Dog, do contact the theatre in advance, and they still might be able to assist, but bare this in mind. Also, there are very little to no patches of grass for your dog to ‘spend’ so if like me you have a dog that prefers grass, then make sure they go before your trip, but the staff are more than happy to take them out for you if you ask. 

In terms of the building itself, as you go into the building, there is a very wide open space, with very few walls to help guide you along. I found the staff to be very helpful and will happily help if they can. There are also unisex toilets available, I wasn’t told of any disabled toilets available so something to ask the staff if you require that. All of the building is well lit by lights and I was able to easily get around before the show, but after the show had finished getting out of the theatre was a little tricky because of the mass exit from the audience so maybe hang back a little until the crowd clears. 

A picture of the stage before the show, with a bright blue background with an old fashioned red car cover in a old green sheet.

Overall I found the venue to be easy to navigate but if you are someone with little to no vision then you will struggle due to the amount of wide space so I would strongly suggest going with a friend or family member on your first visit to then be able to understand your bearings better. 

Overall, I definitely recommend this show and this theatre! ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ is running at The Chelmsford Theatre from Wednesday 24th until Saturday, the 27th of May 2023, if you are looking for a relaxing, enjoyable and fun night out I cannot recommend this enough, and I can’t wait to see what this theatre has in store in the future! Tickets for the show can be found on The Chelmsford Theatre’s website by clicking here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Charles Dickens – ‘Great Expectations’ Adapted By Gale Childs-Daly

Hi everyone, I’m back with another review!

After the fun and laughter of ‘They Don’t Pay, We Won’t Pay’ comes another classic story by Charles Dickens. The Mercury Theatre in Colchester kindly invited me to their press night of ‘Great Expectations’. I haven’t very read or watched this in films so I had no idea what it was about, but `I had heard of the story of course. 

‘Great Expectations’ tells the story of Pipe a country boy orphan who was adopted by his sister and her husband Joe. Joe is a blacksmith so he and Pipe have a close relationship. One day Pipe is called to go and see Miss Havisham and to play with Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter Estella. Years later Pipe comes into a wealth of money and becomes a gentlemen of London. Once there Pipe’s life starts to unravel and things don’t seem to end right for him.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show! I went into this show knowing nothing about the story so I really enjoyed it! There was so much drama and scandal that you could help but be focused on the story. The cast was amazing and they all told the story brilliantly. Some had more than one character to play others only had one. In some scenes you would feel the tension, fear or worry that that particular character was feeling, everyone did a fantastic job! I feel like however I need to mention both Stanton Wright (Pip) and Emily Pollet (Miss Havisham). When had scenes together you could feel a sense of bond and friendly affection between them particularly when had scenes which just the two of them. Brilliantly played by the cast! 

Photo shows Pip and Estella dancing in front of a crowd in a very pink lighting
Photo By: Pamela Raith

I found various points of the show to be quite dark. Even when I walked into the auditorium I found it to be darker than usual so was a struggle to find the right seat. Luckily my mum had come along to this show so she was able to help me out. But I would have either struggled but found the seat eventually, asked a member of the public or asked a staff member to get around this situation otherwise. I can defiantly understand why the theatre might have wanted it a little darker to keep with the atmosphere on stage. But I found this to be a little difficult. On the subject of lighting, Quite a fair few number of the scenes within the show, are in quite a dark/gloomy setting. I guess this is to be keep in with the setting of a smoggy London, But there were times when I struggled to see some of the scenes or the characters. But there were also times when the characters were lit up by light, either by a spotlight or an orange light coming from the floor of the stage to imitate fire, which I thought was a lovely idea and a great touch. But keep in mind that ninety per cent of the show is in very low lighting, and most of the characters’ costumes are in very dull colours to keep in with the period. So have this in mind if you would like to come and see this show. 

Each character was very distinguishable either through their change in costume or mostly through their change in voice. I was very impressed with the way nearly all of the cast could their voices to sound like they were in different parts of the country. 

I would also recommend you get a decent seat, as there is very little set design with some costumes being similar colours to the background, if you had low vision you will want to be able to see as much as you can. There are a few physical scenes but only one very dramatic scene, but this is helped by a light and crowd of people but still quite a dark scene, so if you want to see the show comfortably I would suggest getting a seat in Row E or near if possible.

Photo dhows Pip & Joe searching in the darkness with a lantern.
Photo By: Pamela Raith

There is an accessible tour touch performance on the last date of the show’s run at 2.30 pm. The Mercury Theatre are excellent. They are very in-depth, they have some of the props and costumes you can feel and touch along with the set. If possible some of the cast will come and talk to you about their character and what is in store without spoiling the show. Would highly recommend going to the touch tour if you can.

Having gone into this show not knowing anything about the plot or story, I can say I thoroughly enjoy the show immensely! I would recommend anyone go and see this show. As I said above, if you have low vision, there might be times when you will struggle in certain scenes, but most of the show is dialogue, so you miss very little of the show. If you can blind or have little to no useful vision, then I would say of course try and get the touch tour and Audio Described performance on the last day of the show if you can. But if for some reason you can’t, then I honestly feel you will miss out on very little and will still enjoy the show anyway because of the amazing cast!

‘Great Expectations’ is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 18th – 27th May 2023! If you wish to get tickets for this show, you can find the link to the show’s information page on the theatre’s website by clicking here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic