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A Bolt From the Blue. The Caxton Players. Grimsby. January 2022

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

A Bolt From the Blue

David Tristram

The Caxton Players

The Caxton Theatre, Grimsby

22 – 29 January 2022

Sometimes in life, accidents happen. Things go wrong. The unexpected hits. You simply cannot anticipate what is about to occur. David Tristram’s A Bolt From the Blue is very much in that vein. Billed as an electrifying comedy, its centred around the life of one unremarkable man, Edward Jones played by newcomer Brayden Kerr. Simply minding his own business, working on a pylon as an electrical storm hits unexpectedly, Edward’s life changes forever. The combination of the electricity, a fall from a great height, a pile of manure, and a ham sandwich change his life in totally unexpected ways.

We are introduced to two narrators who guide us through proceedings, not unlike two heavenly guardians watching over events as all-seeing and all-knowing storytellers marking Edward’s days and relaying the tale for all who will listen. Narrator 1 is played by another newcomer to the Caxton Players, Terry Faulkner. His nimble and effervescent delivery brings an impish charm to the story. Faulkner is clearly a natural storyteller, ideally suited to the role. One could almost picture him as William Hartnell’s Doctor Who of the 1960s. His compatriot, as Narrator 2 is the last-minute addition of Director turned actor in this instance, Nigel Stolworthy who has stepped in as an understudy due to last minute changes forced upon the production. The pair make an admirable Greek chorus to the three nimble actors taking on a multitude of roles and accents in the telling of Edward’s story.

I have already mentioned one cast change necessitated by circumstance but a shout-out should go to leading man Brayden Kerr who has taken on the role having previously occupied Narrator 2’s berth and is doing a grand job, finding humour and humanity in his new role. Brayden is on stage for most of the play as the central character and has a lot of the convoluted plot to keep in his head as he delivers the lines at very short notice.

Ordinarily, understudies are not a luxury enjoyed at the Caxton Theatre, however these are pandemic times not ordinary times and needs must. I take my hat off to those who are willing to step up in order to ensure that the show must go on. It’s a brave move but without such efforts, cancellations would inevitably occur disappointing audiences and societies alike.

Keeping things ticking over nicely is Caxton stalwart Mike Wilson. His characters include rapid fire shifts between Fireman, Paramedic, Doctor, Consultant and News Anchor. We are treated to an array of regional =accents delivered with a deliberately broad brush and silly costumes to accompany them, including an ill-fitting bald cap in order to convince the audience that this character has a Yul Brinner-like appearance. Somehow, it works.

Playing all the female roles (and some of the male ones too!) is another relatively fresh face on the Caxton stage, last seen in 2019’s Holmes and the Ripper, Lucy Tooze brings a commanding presence to each of the roles portrayed and one wonders why we haven’t seen more of her in productions on the Main Stage. The differentiation between each role is remarkable and, as with Mike Wilson, she too brings an array of accents. She fearlessly throws herself into each role and brings warmth and more than a touch of lunacy to certain parts.

With all the last-minute changes one would expect hiccoughs, and there were a couple, that is only to be expected but when the madcap comedy is ramped up in Act Two and the cast give themselves over to it, it is a really crowd-pleasing show.

I hope that, given how the cast and crew have gone the extra mile, this show finds a warm and appreciative audience. I want to wish everyone who has worked on the show well and hope that if not in this production, then we see them in another very soon and I salute the efforts of all who have stepped up. I look forward to seeing more of these actors in future productions Caxton Players.

Andy Evans 19 January 2022

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