Mr Courtneys Brood
Pulse Mcr Production of ‘Mr Courtney’s Brood’ by James Hadfield-Hyde
at The Three Minute Theatre, Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JG
10th - 14th November 2014.
Pulse Mcr’s latest production is the hilarious musical comedy of modern manners and political incorrectness: ‘Mr Courtney’s Brood’ by James Hadfield-Hyde. Meet the Courtney family, a living testimony to the British values of hard work, honesty and fair play. With a fortune founded on the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, the younger members of the Courtney family are guaranteed a bountiful inheritance, or are they?
‘Mr Courtney’s Brood’ introduces us to the badly mannered Courtneys of Badley Manor: The spritely Patriarch, Alfred is fast approaching his ninetieth birthday and showing no signs of shuffling off anything, much to the annoyance of most of his children whose rise in polite society has been accompanied by a corresponding fall in moral certainty: Robert, the eldest, runs the family steel works with an iron hand, Edward, the hapless Barrister, has yet to win a single case, Charlotte, serial divorcee and socialite, has yet to find Mr Right, although a rich Mr Wrong will do in the meantime. When the youngest, Francis, overlooked and overworked, arranges a surprise birthday party for his cantankerous father, events take an unexpected turn and he needs all the help and guidance he can get from Symes, the family’s admirable and totally superior butler.
Directed by Gina T Frost with musical arrangements by John Topliff, ‘Mr Courtney’s Brood’ is a fast-paced farce of modern manners and morality including five new songs with lyrics by the author James Hadfield-Hyde.
Aiden J. Harvey as Alfred Courtney, Tony Charnock as Robert Courtney
Peter Slater as Edward Courtney, Sophie Anne Ellicott as Charlotte Courtney
Stephen Costello as Francis Courtney, Noel Wilson as Symes
10th - 14th November 2014.
The Three Minute Theatre, Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JG.
Door £10 /£8 (concession)
Online £9/£7 (concession)
Tickets on Sale: http://www.threeminutetheatre.co.uk
Doors open at 7pm for 7:30pm start.
Info from www.threeminutetheatre.co.uk
Manchester Evening News Whats On review
Review: Mr Courtney's Brood @ Three Minute Theatre
British Theatre Guide
This play is a very vigorous farce in a style which tends toward panto. It concerns the landed gentry and the curious goings on as the feuding four children of the patriarch Alfred Courtney squabble over who is going to inherit what after he dies. Given that he is about to be 90, this event, at least for three of them, cannot come soon enough.
'Mr Courtney’s Brood': James Hadfield-Hyde’s hilarious new play is a brilliant satire on British morals and manners. The dysfunctional Courtney family’s rise and fall is charted by their butler, Symes, as the family prepare for the 90th birthday of the patriarch Alfred Horatio Courtney, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Will the status quo be maintained? Will the meek inherit the earth? Anything is possible in this definitely un-PC musical gallop through the British class system.
John Topliff, Producer: The Manchester Shakespeare Company
REVIEW: Making light of stereotypes- Mr Courtney’s Brood
Mr Courtney's Brood, 3MT, Manchester, Affleck's Palace, James Hadfield-Hyde, Gina T. Frost, John Topliff
Jayna Patel reviews Manchester’s Three Minute Theatre’s Mr Courtney’s Brood on 12th November at Affleck’s Palace.
Even if you’re one of those bland, straight nose rigid stiffs, it’s impossible not to fall under 3MT’s infectious spell. It’s walls lined with a patchwork collage of paintings, posters and post cards and shelves teeming with a magical mess of knick-knacks for sale, the small boutique theatre bursts with creative vibes and possibility.
3MT, Afflecks Palace
Bursting with possibility.
The latest performance, produced by in house production company Pulse Mcr, who are specialists in developing scripts from novice writers to an industry standard was Mr Courtney’s Brood. Set at the aptly named Badley Manor, incredibly wealthy patriarch, Alfred (Aiden J. Harvey) is still full of life despite fast approaching his 90th birthday. This is much to the dismay of this three want for nothing, silver-spoon children who are hankering after their inheritance. While eldest son Robert (Tony Charnock) runs the family steel works without a second thought to his workers’ welfare, Edward (Peter Slater) is an hapless barrister without a single court victory to back up his arrogance and together with serial divorcee and socialite, Charlotte (Sophie Ann Ellicott) they are desperate for their father’s fortune. Meanwhile, overworked overlooked and over-camp Francis just wants to be noticed. When youngest son Francis organises a surprise 90th birthday party under the direction of diplomatic and totally superior butler, Symes (Noel Wilson) events take an unpredictable turn.
3MT, Afflecks Palace.
Infectious: 3MT has an creative vibe.
As the production unfolded it was clever how the writer, James Hadfield-Hyde had taken the ugliness of greed and turned it upside down and turned the ignorance of stereotypes inside out. An ingenious wordsmith, he ironically achieves a rarity- by interspersing both racist, homophobic and the odd sexist digs though the hilarious script, his play is subversive, making light of what are often serious and all too common issues. That is not to say he condones racism or homophobia, his mockery of the issues themselves show them for the petty and cowardly discrimination they are- plus the victims of these jokes come out on top through a surprise twist at the end.
Hadfield-Hyde’s gift and way with words doesn’t just stop at being an accomplished playwright, with him possessing a creative zest for penning impossibly funny songs, weaving comical rhyming and whimsical lyrics to the backdrop of the upbeat bounce of the piano, with music composed by John Topliff.
The standard of acting was impressive given that each actor delivered a polished performance, although some did occasionally break from their role and who can blame them when all they were either speaking or hearing would send most audience members into a side- splitting spiral of giggles?
Noel Wilson flawlessly articulates and eloquently embodies his wordy lines from his part of the script which comprises of a plethora of archaic sayings and embellished words, portraying his character’s extensive, slightly intimidating, vocabulary and as if it comes naturally to him. Aiden J. Harvey also gave a compelling performance as an aging old codger, and having starred in 3MT’s Point of Departure production earlier this year, he has just released a crime thriller novel, ACE.
My ear drums were left ringing from Sophie Ann Elliott’s performance of dramatic character Charlotte and Stephen Costello in his role as flamboyant fairy-cake Francis’ emotional and extravagant theatrics. While it was amusing at first, the melodrama did get a little over the top but how they both maintained their roles with unwavering poise for the majority of the show was frankly, quite extraordinary and testament to their acting talent.
Humour was translated from witty dialogue to visual entertainment – I mean you can’t help but chuckle at a supposed corpse with his face respectfully covered having a flat cap and glasses hastily placed back on his cold face, can you? Most people would also struggle to stifle at least a smile when a strand of a pompous character’s wig deliberately and prominently sticks out too. A nod has to go to the costume designers whose choice of dress for each character perfectly reflected each protagonist’s persona in case you forgot who they were.
Some may find Mr Courtney’s Brood, directed by Gina. T Frost, a tad ridiculous but one thing is for certain, humour tastes better when laced with intelligence and that’s what Hadfield-Hyde ingeniously does, successfully and challenging common preconceptions with brilliant wit.