Scratchworks in The Great Train Robbery, Stalbridge and touring

THE Devon-based Scratchworks theatre stepped in at short notice to fill a couple of spaces on the Artsreach schedule, much to the delight of the audience at Stalbridge Village Hall.

The four women toured the The Great Train Robbery during 2018, and were able to revive it, at the same time as preparing their new show Womans (like Romans with a W), the second in a trilogy of comedies about the forgotten women of history.  The company was formed in 2013 with the mission of creating playful and accessible theatre from scratch.

And thus James found himself sharing a hotel room with an unknown woman, playing Scrab­ble, Craig was re-christened Ringo and played became leader of the kazoo section, and another couple of Stalbridge worthies revealed more than we strictly needed to know about their personal lives – all the best possible taste, the spirit of fun and the traditions of pantomimic audience participation.

Hanora Kamen, who manages the quartet and made a huge impression as grandma in Bristol Old Vic’s last children’s Christmas show Chloe and the Colour Catcher, with her three (un-named) companions, unfolded this story of four cleaners inadvertently scooped into the world of Ronnie Biggs and his chums, robbing a train, covering their traces, and playing policemen to boot. The Great Train Robbery is physical theatre made flesh, full of songs and goonery, keenly-timed slapstick, clever choreography and inventive improvisation.

I’m just looking forward to the next show, and hope Artsreach will be booking it for the autumn season.

And thanks to the Stalbridge team, who decorated the hall (and themselves!) in suitable attire, making for an extra welcome to the audience.



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