A review for Old Trunk’s latest play The Secret Wives of Andy Williams, which premiered at Camden People’s Theatre in August 2013.
It is rare in film, theatre or any art form to encounter a follow up show, a prequel or sequel that is as good if not better than the first. This unique occurrence has happened with Old Trunk and their new show The Secret Wives of Andy Williams, the prequel show to their stellar hit production last year, Watership Breakdown; The Bastard Children of Remington Steel. For background both shows are set in a nunnery where orphans and strays are taken in and looked after.
Secret Wives of Andy Williams is every bit as quirky, honest, funny and engaging as the last production and yet manages to retain the same voice despite being about the nuns taking the front row seat over the orphans. Only one character remains as the through line, Sister Mabel Matthew, and yet the style is the same and so it feels undeniably like a prequel. The characters are exceptionally well formed and it is clear a huge amount of work and passion has been applied to enable the audience to fall headfirst and fully immerse in the stories of these likeable, unique characters.
The team of performers are very tight knit with only one actor different from the production last year. The addition of Edward Mitchell as Susan and Sister Gertrude has added a wonderful new dimension to what was already a fantastic group dynamic. Mitchell adds a sparkle and twinkle to this strong female trio and the balance that is created ensures a great sense of harmony. Mitchell is an excellent character actor, seamlessly switching from one to the next with not even a beat. Men, women, old and young are all delivered with the same level of passion and commitment.
Sadie Hasler is truly destined to lead the charge as we discover the next generation of prolific writers in the UK. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is not the name on everybody’s lips both for theatre and TV in the next year or so and I can certainly say I was lucky enough to witness the humble beginnings of that greatness at the Camden Fringe. Her trusty co producer and exceptionally talented actor and comedian Sarah Mayhew yet again reveals her attention to detail with character; playing Sister Clara, the obnoxious yet misunderstood Enid and Queenie Bee, all completely unique and utterly convincing. Charlie Platt is delightful as the confused young nun Caitlin and her sense of fun and innocence in this playful role is totally charming.
Hasler has delivered another little piece of heavenly storytelling to the stage and no doubt there are many more to come! I for one cannot wait to see what’s next for these nuns!