• sheilavanloo

Opening Night Success for a New Cornish Theatre Company

Updated: Aug 30, 2020


Jam First Theatre Company

Laurence Pears and Darren Seed doing what they do best - entertaining an audience.

Lock down restrictions are slowly beginning to lift, but the Arts sector remains under threat with companies and venues looking for different ways of creating and performing. Closures and redundancies are regularly in the news as stringent social distancing rules continue to bite.

Given the current climate is this a good time to establish a brand new company in the heart of Cornwall? Judging by Jam First Theatre’s opening night the answer is a resounding YES.

Cornish actors, Laurence Pears and Darren Seed, began their love of acting treading the boards with local am dram companies and have gone on to establish careers in film, television and award winning theatre productions. Darren was receiving accolades and 5 star reviews for his role in the highly successful Oi Frog and Friends when Covid shut everything down. Laurence, having previously worked with the incredible Mischief Theatre, was about to take on a leading role in their West End production Magic Goes Wrong when the rug was pulled out from under.

After licking their wounds and realising a return to their respective shows was probably a long way into the future, Laurence and Darren pooled their vast amount of skills to give birth to Jam First Theatre Company and subsequently devise and create Hellish.

Home is the only place to launch a new enterprise when you’re working with no budget as family and friends can be relied upon to rally round, finding venues, stewarding and donating props. Beg, borrow and beg some more, were the watchwords for Hellish.

Last night in a field in the tiny village of Tregony, Hellish opened to a sold out, socially distanced audience. To describe first night as a triumph is an understatement, the brilliantly written script celebrates Laurence and Darren’s love of comedy with the laughs coming thick and fast. The clever story involves the Devil, God and numerous other dubious characters gambling, singing and generally cavorting their way through heaven and hell.

A successful comedy show is all about timing and our Jam First actors are masters in the art of fast paced delivery, every joke was met with roars of approval. Laughter on any scale is music to a comedy actor’s ears; the audience were socially distanced and seated on hay bales with the rain lashing down, but they laughed hard and loud – had Hellish been performed in ‘normal times’ on a bigger stage Laurence and Darren would have been taking curtain calls.

Opening night of Hellish was a first in many ways, including the directorial debut for Ellie Leah. An actor herself, Ellie is no stranger to the West End stage with top shows like Calendar Girls to her credit. Ellie has pulled everything together perfectly and succeeded in adding another string to her bow.

Director Ellie Leah, drenched but beaming proudly at the end of the successful premiere of Hellish.

In these uncertain times, Laurence Pears and Darren Seed have devised something very special, they write and perform brilliantly together, engage with their audience throughout and their love for their craft is palpable.

Jam First Theatre Company must go further, while Hellish is very much a Cornish comedy it could easily be tweaked to entertain a wider audience across the country. It would be amazing to see Hellish in the Edinburgh Fringe programme 2022, with a show this superb anything is possible.

Three sold out shows this weekend have led to an extra performance at Pinetum Gardens on Saturday 5th September. Advance Booking is essential, for tickets and further information visit www.crbo.co.uk or call 01726 879500

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Sheila Vanloo

August 2020

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