Theatre review

Elaine Deathridge (left) and Beverley Moore as the two 'Julies'. Photo: SG130514-343TW
Elaine Deathridge (left) and Beverley Moore as the two 'Julies'. Photo: SG130514-343TW

Jean Hodge reviews SADOS’s production of Bag Girls: The Musical at South Holland Centre, Spalding.

There are women throughout South Holland who are probably still cringeing at the image of prison officer James Fenner at HMP Larkhall.

Andrew ‘PJ’ Canham is most probably a very nice man (and apologies to any family members reading this) but he had the perverted sexual predator off to a fine art in his role as officer in Bad Girls: The Musical, the latest production from SADOS.

His voice may not have been brilliant as he sang ‘When you hold the key’, but it didn’t matter. His actions – running the key up and down his trousers and even unzipping his flies at one point – was a convincing performance of perversity and abuse of power.

Those being abused by James Fenner were the female inmates of HMP Larkhall, and their characters were all so good that I felt instant empathy with them, from the prisoner separated from her new baby to the misguided shoplifter who was “doing it for Jesus”. A large part of me agreed with their refrain, “I shouldn’t be here.”

The voices of the majority of the cast were astonishingly good and there were some that were outstanding, including inmates Nikki Wade (otherwise known as Anita Heaton) and Yvonne Atkins (Colette Coleman) who both gave confident solo performances, as did Crystal Gordon (Tilly Hoyles-Simpson) with her soulful voice.

Then there was the light relief of the ‘Julies’ – Julie Johnston played by Elaine Deathridge and Julie Saunders played by Beverley Moore – who were just brilliant, giving us wonderful songs and adding a lot of character to the production.

There were so many good things about Bad Girls, from the striking backdrop to the smooth scene changes, the great musicianship and strong acting and story-line.

It’s also worth mentioning that it made a refreshing change to see a live performance, especially of such quality, after my recent diet of National Theatre Live productions.