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Wallop Mrs Cox (Birmingham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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BMOS are a Birmingham based pro-amateur group which have established themselves over a period, in some form or another, of over 100 years based within the countries second city. Taking on a production which tells the story of the location in which they are based is a clever move by the producers of the company and brings a sense of honesty to the proceedings as the midlands-based actors re-tell the story of the very people they represent.

Following the legacy of Mrs Cox, the narrative is cleverly woven with the threads of Birmingham’s long history with special attention to the Bull Ring Market and its changing faces. It was obvious that many elements of the discourse evoked memories for the audience in its characters and locations. However, sometimes the production relies too much on the sense of nostalgia from older spectators and neglects an explanation for a younger crowd; too much of the dialogue is a ‘do you remember?’ rather than giving a full insight for those who may not have witnessed the events themselves.

When talking of the dialogue it is also important to mention that much of the speech is lost in the vast auditorium of the Hippodrome; unfortunately the set up of microphones seems to be inadequate for the large scale of the venue. This highlights that perhaps the production would have benefitted from the intimacy of a smaller space.

The ensemble of women (young and old) who portray Mrs Cox’s long life span are commendable in their talent and portrayal. Special mention goes to Sheila Palmer in her performance as the oldest Mrs Cox, bringing sincerity in her delivery and warmth to the role.

The large cast of over seventy adults and children are a useful tool in portraying the large, bustling city and are especially strong when singing as a chorus.

The use of projection screens at the rear of the stage are used as a mirror of the action on stage; showing photo and video sources of the city in time period the production is at. The screens are a clever addition by the director, John Adams, whom has completed a creditable task in directing such a large company of actors.

Wallop Mrs Cox is a great effort in terms of an amateur production and is a credit to the strength of BMOS, however, with the aid of a smaller house and clarity in some of its production elements the performance could have approached the heights of professionalism.

- Ben Wooldridge


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