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REVIEW: Little Women

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:02 06 July 2010

THIS stage version of the classic Louisa M Alcott classic novel marked the debut for Yakety Yak.

Emma Reeves' stage adaption presented a number of challenges, but under the inventive direction of Agnes Willis it proved successful at Tuesday's opering performance.

Little Women

Yakety Yak in association with the Seagull Youth Theatre

Fisher Theatre, Bungay

THIS stage version of the classic Louisa M Alcott classic novel marked the debut for Yakety Yak.

Emma Reeves' stage adaption of the work presented a number of challenges, but under the inventive direction of Agnes Willis it proved successful at Tuesday's opening performance.

Many and frequent scene changes, smoothly affected, did not unduly affect the flow of the story of the four sisters - Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth - as they grow from children to womanhood in Massachusetts in the US in the 19th century.

The atmosphere of the story, the bond between the family, balancing feelings of selfishness and loyalty, and the confusion of teenage years against a background of the American Civil War, is well maintained, thanks to the high standard of the cast. It is an emotional and tear-jerking story tracing the family's joys and sorrows, absorbing the audience from start to finish.

Holly Budgeon, as the headstrong, independent, tomboy-ish Jo, has the huge task of carrying the story through from start to finish, and never wavers in a hugely impressive and well observed portrayal. And alongside her as the more temperate, beautiful Meg, Bungay-born Iona Magnus, absorbs herself completely in an accomplished and mature performance.

Sophie Scannell and Jemima Selwyn-Crome play the young Amy and Beth with praiseworthy confidence and assurance, while Laura Hills, as the older Amy in the second half, provides one of the most natural and pleasing performances of the evening. As the older ill-fated Beth, Lianne Smith also wins the hearts.

On the male side, Dan Walker as Laurie establishes the earnestness and frustration the role of wooing the girls requires, while among the senior members, Tom Holloway as John Brooke bring his experience to bear, as does Agnes Lillis as the girls' mother.

There are good cameos from Carole Ward and Aunt March and Stephen Drury as the animated Professor Bhaer, while Catriona Smith, Leon Langdale, Sophia Wells, Reece Ayers and Val Bird provide important support in a well-staged production which will leave people looking forward to more from this new company.

Terry Reeve

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