Hollyenders street came to Fairfield Road when Lesley Grantham, Michelle Gayle and the rest of the cast brought Soap Opera to the Civic Theatre. The stage was decked out as a TV studio, with sets, cameras, lighting, and flat screen TVs surrounding the stage.
The fictional soap is in turmoil when a new executive producer, played by Hattie Hayridge (Holly from TV’s Red Dwarf), wants to stop the slump in ratings by bringing in a host of changes, and not everybody is happy. With numerous motives, there are a number of suspects for the unexpected disappearance of the executive, and it is down to a detective who is also a long time fan to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Leslie Grantham (EastEnders), Graham Cole (The Bill), Louis Emerick (Brookside) and Michelle Gayle (EastEnders) all play prodies of their past characters within the pre-filmed episodes, and there is plenty of humour in the way the soap opera format is treated in these segments. The opening ‘episode’, however, is rather long, and some of the jokes end up being repeated.
All of the main cast seem far more comfortable in their traitional character roles than that of the ‘actors’, and the play does take a while to get going. The pace is picked up after the interval, as panic starts to set in with the detective’s enquiries bring fear into proceedings.
Kev Orkian ends up stealing almost every seen he is in as his camp character gets drunker and drunker to avoid the drama that is unfolding on set. There is a final twist as the landmark anniversary show is set to air live, and the laughs come thick and fast as Leslie Grantham is seen running from set to set as the whole show collapses around his character.
Whilst the first half of the performance is rather slow, the second shows how much this production has to offer, and everybody leaves with a smile on their face.