Review: Chesterfield’s new Rose Theatre hosts first pro show, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell Tale Heart at Chesterfield's Rose Theatre on December 7
The Tell Tale Heart at Chesterfield's Rose Theatre on December 7
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Children’s concerts and dark drama have launched a new centre for the arts in the heart of Chesterfield.

A seven-month labour of love has seen the transformation of a large storage room at the Eastwood Buildings on Rose Hill into the Rose Theatre.

Pupils of Chesterfield Studios, which is based in the building, raised the curtain on the new theatre by staging concerts for their parents.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Chesterfield, Cllr Paul Stone and Mrs Barbara Wallace, joined members of the public last night (Saturday, December 7) when Rose Theatre hosted its first professional production.

Brought to the theatre by the Live and Local organisation, The Tell-Tale Heart was based on Edgar Alan Poe’s story and was an intriguing mix of drama and live, on-stage sound effects.

NIghtmarishly entertaining, it told the story of a nurse driven to murder an elderly patient and relived the brutal act in all its gory detail. Many watching it would never view a stick of celery in the same way, as the twisting of a crisp stalk mimicked the sound of limbs being torn off.

Five footlights across the front of the stage gave the illusion that there was more than one person in focus as the shafts of light cast dramatic shadows on the backcloth. Laurence Saunders was a tour de force, playing not only the nurse driven to self-harm and murder but also his elderly victim.

Iain Armstrong played the doctor to whom the nurse confessed his crimes and also the master of sound effects. In his white coat, Iain looked like a chemist as he hooked up bottles of liquid to laboratory apparatus or a candidate for Masterchef as he hacked into all sorts of vegetables.

The difficulty for the viewer was to know which of the performers to look at as both were equally mesmerising.

In his speech at the end of the night, the mayor, who is an Equity cardholder, commended the energy which Laurence had brought to the role as well as his recall of a huge amount of dialogue and praised Iain for the great sound effects.

Productions lined up for Rose Theatre include children’s drama Freddy Dare and Ginger Robber, about a young boy’s search for a super hero, on March 1; The Last Illusion, which focuses on a music hall magician going back on stage for the final time, on March 20; and The Thankful Village, about a community which lost no men during the First World War, on May 15.

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