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Sugar Daddies (Oldham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This Alan Ayckbourn revival is a joint production between Harrogate Theatre and Oldham Coliseum in which this 2003 play has been revisited with success.

Sasha (Sarah Vezmar) is a naïve young girl who has recently moved to London to go to catering college.  Sharing a flat with her older and more worldly wise half-sister Chloe (Maeve Larkin), Sasha’s desire to see the good in everyone soon leads her down a path of self-destruction and deep unhappiness.

After being a good Samaritan and helping Val; later Uncle Val (Paul Webster) after a car accident, Sasha finds herself showered with gifts, taken to the Opera; on the periphery of a world of old school gangsters, working girls and a lack of respect.  Also attracting the attention and concern of her more mature single neighbour Ashley (Christopher Wilkinson), Sasha ends up between a rock and hard place having become someone she does not like but in the enviable position of having access to money and life’s luxuries.  

Wilkinson and Webster are a delight as the bickering aged men; both vying for Sasha’s attention and also raking over the past and providing some of the most comical, touching and mildly frightening scenes. Vezmar plays vulnerable and naïve well without feeling the need to slip in to portraying Sasha as stupid which she most definitely is not.  Larkin’s Chloe is a little too over the top and comes across as somewhat nonsensical at times. 

Heather Phoenix appears in the second act as Charmaine and is hilarious as the former call girl done good.  Her brutality and charm are a winning combination. Michael Holt's set is a triumph and the audience certainly appreciated the transformation which takes place.

This is a pleasing production sure to entertain audiences everywhere. A subtle message behind comedy should always hit the mark. Not the most though- provoking of Ayckbourn’s work but another solid example of this playwrights extensive back catalogue.

- Ruth Lovett


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