Review: James Pellow's one-man play at the Manor Pavilion Theatre

Actor James Pellow, who performed his new one-man show in Sidmouth

Actor James Pellow, who performed his new one-man show in Sidmouth - Credit: James Pellow

Audiences at the Manor Pavilion Theatre enthusiastically welcomed back James Pellow with his thought-provoking one-man show The Present Predicament of Edna Runnacleave. James has been performing on the Sidmouth stage since 2004 and has become somewhat of a local favourite, and as one audience member commented 'is an accomplished actor'.

Taking inspiration from A Christmas Carol and The Borrowers, James put together a charming but often poignant piece which he described as 'a delightfully improbable ghost story'.

The curtains opened to a splash of colour depicting the interior of the lady of the house’s Sewing Cupboard. Complete with large cards of buttons and huge cotton reels, it soon became clear that the current occupant was a very tiny ghost, dressed in a resplendent gown which can only be described as a cascade of rainbow-coloured petals – thus Edna Runnacleave was revealed.

The tiny ghost of Edna Runnacleave in James Pellow's play

The tiny ghost of Edna Runnacleave in James Pellow's play - Credit: Contributed

Edna painted a picture of a stifled childhood devoid of colour and joy, a monochrome existence with a much older sister. The arrival of Desmond, a much-loved nephew of a similar age, brought opportunity to escape and have some fun and she particularly recalled their fondness for the film Mary Poppins. Desmond, now a grown man, visits the Sewing Room often and overhearing his phone conversations Edna surreptitiously encourages him to follow his dream of playing Mr Banks in the Goldthorpe Amateur Dramatic Society’s production of Mary Poppins.

In Act 2 the action switched to the room itself with the tiny Sewing Cupboard taking centre stage. It was Desmond now recalling his version of their magnolia-painted lives and remembering the fun times with Aunty Edna. Fighting against years of negativity and spurred on by the tiny notes of encouragement Edna has pushed through the cupboard keyhole, he finally steps into the limelight to successfully play the part of Mr Banks!

James was a delight in both roles drawing his audience in from the off. The scenes were effectively defined by gentle fades to black-out and covered perfectly by incidental music composed and recorded especially for the piece by John Griswold.

“Spit spot”, as Mary Poppins would say!