Review: Karaoke Theatre Company at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

From left: Louise Shuttleworth, Rachel Caffrey in The Karaoke Theatre Company
From left: Louise Shuttleworth, Rachel Caffrey in The Karaoke Theatre Company

Alan Ayckbourn still has the most fertile imagination in current theatre.

The Karaoke Theatre Company is the product of an Ayckbourn script with input from an energetic and multi-talented ensemble and special guest appearance by ... the audience.

The show presents a series of pastiches, among others: gothic horror, Swedish noir, bedroom farce, and for each there is a role for an audience member.

There was enthusiastic participation on the night I was there. The young lady to my right excelled as a neighing horse.

Each of the actors takes responsibility for coaching the audience through their roles while the rest of the cast take the conventional parts.

In the 17th century drawing room drama section, for example, Oliver Nelson plays the effete suitor; Rufus Wellington is the indigent Lord; Anna Raleigh plays his plain younger daughter; Karen Drake is the older sister desperate for a husband and Alyssia Coote conducts the audience in delivering the sound effects.

For once, a member of the stage crew gets a prominent role with the ever-present Edie Hardy lugubriously fetching and carrying.

In some sections, audience members played quite prominent parts, perhaps acting as narrator or reading a part as one of the actors mouthed the words.

No one was humiliated by their participation and all were willing volunteers.

Karaoke Theatre Company is not only unique, it is also an evening of pure fun and excellent value for money at nearly three hours of entertainment.

Karaoke Theatre Company runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in repertory until October 7.

The next show in the rep to open is The World Goes Round - a celebration of the music of Kander and Ebb.

Showstoppers such as New York, New York, All That Jazz, Maybe This Time and Money, Money will be performed alongside lesser-known numbers such as Mr Cellophane, Arthur in the Afternoon and Coffee in a Cardboard Cup by a cast comprising some of the best of the UK’s musical theatre performers: Phoebe Fildes, Laura Jane Matthewson, Nigel Richards, Ashley Samuels and Shona White.

It opens on Thursday July 28 and runs in rep until Saturday September 3.

All shows can be book on Scarborough (01723) 370541 or wwwsjt.uk.com