This week I was invited along to see a new all female production of The Hall by Claire Erasmus at Tramshed in Cardiff. The Hall is a story of three women united by their local community hall. We see them open up about their lives, have a giggle and to top it all off, they save the hall from closing down.
I haven’t been to Tramshed before, so I was keen to see what kind of venue it is and how a play would work within it. My mother came along to see the show and we were really impressed with the turn out of people. It was really nice to get a chance to meet Claire in person; she is the loveliest lady and she made us feel very welcome indeed.
Theatre Review: The Hall by Claire Erasmus.
Three chairs, three women and three very different lives brought together because of a hall used by a community. The idea behind The Hall is a lovely one, and the first thing I have to say is that this play is full to the brim with heart. From friendships to heartache we learn about the three (very) different women; we see them grow together as time moves forward.
Even though the women are extremely different in terms of character, each of them have one thing in common; they are mothers. This bond allows for them to connect and slowly get to know each other, with comical and saddening effect.
The women consist of Lisa ((Carrie Hill), Mel (Jennie Eggleton) and Shaza (Jodie Hay), and each one performed with such perfection. They appeared to be extremely well rehearsed and they had an awesome vibe between them.
Each of them had their own backstory and individual personality. I loved how this was apparent through their dialogue, memories and appearance. I really related to Mel, an exhausted yet positive force amongst the three friends. I thought Jennie Eggleton performed with sincerity and offered a vulnerable yet quirky character within the production.
Lisa reminded me of many of my own friends. She appeared to have her guard up during the beginning of the performance, but over time she allowed the other women in. I really liked her energy upon the stage, and Carrie Hill certainly gave 110%!
Last, but by no means least, Shaza was a breath of fresh air within the performance. I loved her attitude and bubbly personality. Jodie Hay was wonderful in this role and she too reminded me of some of my dear friends…
When it comes to the script, Claire Erasmus certainly has a way with wit. From quick and comical replies to clever and well orchestrated situations amongst friends, there’s a lot to love about the The Hall. When it comes to areas of improvement, there isn’t tonnes to say…
I think the play would have benefited from an interval, and perhaps certain areas (which were lightly touched on) could have been expanded. I think topics such as miscarriage and food banks could have been expanded, giving the play an added layer.
That being said, I think Claire Erasmus created a really heartfelt and hilarious performance. The start of the play was extremely well orchestrated, with Giles Thomas performing as Arthur, the hall caretaker. He was absolutely hilarious, and I thought it was so clever to being the audience into the story from the start.
The set, lighting and costume all worked really well and I really loved the moments when the women broke into song. There was something very real about the story-line and friendships. There was a particular part where the friends discuss vaginas and I thought it was incredibly well written and hysterical (much like the rest of the play!).
I think Claire has focused in on the importance of women and the trials and tribulations of mothers. Her writing reminded me of a combination of The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous tailored to the present day. Yet with this humour and wit came a bold and enchanting friendship formation, capable of anything!
The upbeat and positive ending was perfect, and I left the venue on a high. I cannot wait to catch another production from the very talented (and very lovely!) Claire Erasmus soon!