On The Piste Review

To celebrate the Theatre Royal Wakefield’s 120th anniversary, On The Piste is now being performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre this week.

On The Piste follows the story of two couples who meet during a ski trip to the French Alps which escalates into a holiday of fights and affairs.

Written and directed by John Godber, the play was brought together by his own experiences when on a skiing holiday.

Originally written in 1990, the play has toured by Hull Truck and played a season at the Garrick Theatre in London.

With a cast of five people (originally six but after a rewrite, a character was dropped) and performed at The Round, the play required the audience to imagine what the cast are describing and seeing.

Throughout most of the production, the cast wore full, proper ski outfits with the occasional casual wear (or no clothes at all).

Tom Rooke’s portrayal as the French ski instructor Tony was a truly brilliant performance and it wasn’t his characters sex-thirsty attitude that shocked the audience but when it was revealed he was actually English, showcasing his acting talents.

He managed to stay in his role perfectly and his confidence to come out on the stage only wearing a towel was courageous plus his constant use of his catchphrase it’s all rock ‘n’ roll was a perfect way to end the production.

Emmerdale’s Roxanne Pallett’s performance of the whiny and irritatingly annoying Bev was hilarious and relatable for anyone who has been skiing before.

From her very first scene to the very last scene, she managed to make the audience roar with laughter whether it was through her loud bursts of dialogue or her hilarious walk.

The rest of the cast which included Peter McMillan, Samantha Seager and Matthew Stathers all kept to their respective characters and all five cast members worked well together and with only 10 days to learn their lines, they all showcased their talents as actors.

Not only was the performances truly brilliant but the simplistic set design, by stage designers Foxton, of a bar table, two fir trees and a snowman creatively brought to life a scene of a ski resort.

The scene would change to suit the up-coming scene for example the bar table was transformed into a chair lift and through the acting and the lighting, by Graham Kirk, the audience could easily imagine what was happening.

The music needs to also be mentioned. As the play was set in the Alps, Godber originally had alpine music during the first run of the play but changed it for rock and dance music as he tried to make it as authentic to a skiing holiday as possible and it worked well.

As the music choice was well-known by all ages of the audience, there were moments of rhythmic clapping alongside the songs as the set was changed.

John has won numerous awards for his plays including a Laurence Olivier Award and seven Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.

It is a brilliant play about the highs and lows of a skiing holiday and for anyone who is an avid skier will no doubt want to go home and book a skiing holiday.

Theatre Information

Writer & Director: John Godber

Cast: Matthew Stathers, Roxanne Pallett, Peter McMillan, Samantha Seager, Tom Rooke

Theatre: Stephen Joseph Theatre

Running: Nov 18 – 22

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