Thoughts on the Apollo Theatre, Isle of Wight, England

So after a criminally long amount of time with no posts from the fair isle of Albion at all I decided it was time to get on with it and write some reviews. It has been a fairly busy time recently with theatre goings on, both in traditional and non traditional spaces; but more of those later. Here I would like to say something on behalf of local theatre.

I live on a small island and recently went to see a local theatre group’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. (Apparently the victimization of an entire culture can be overcome with a few jolly songs; but I am not going to talk about that) The show was actually quite good, but what I loved was the dedication and hard work of people who are not professional, full time actors. A small but determined group of people who rehearsed, rehearsed and rehearsed for many a long evening. So what could be the reason for this? Little more than the same love of theatre that drives so many of us back into a variety of places, willingly spending time and money in the suspension of our disbelief. It was this that was truly magical.

The theatre itself manages to convey the full level of dedication that I am talking about. Originally a Wesleyan chapel, it was bought in the 1970s and converted to a theatre space. Everything is like an Edwardian pleasure Palace in miniature. Gilding, boxes and a balcony (rather delightfully the balcony has 22 seats in it. The whole theatre takes 137 people. Yet on the night I went it was packed and no less buzzing in the bar afterwards than after a show of a much larger scale. The building itself somehow reminded me of the effort people make to creating theatre, something so ephemeral and transient that it comes and goes in the space of a few hours whilst curiously managing to live on in our imaginations for months, years, decades after.

So with these thoughts in mind, I wanted to make a plea for local theatres everywhere. Seek them out. Suspend your disbelief.


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