REVIEW: The Big Goodbye, The Customs House, South Shields

The much anticipated final part of the 'Big' trilogy was staged last week at the Customs House.

The Customs House, South Shields.
The Customs House, South Shields.

In parts one and two we were shown how small-time crooks Jacks and Jerry's ambition to hit the big time was only matched by their incompetence.

The result of which lead to tragic outcomes. Wayne Miller as a writer is growing along with his characters, this intricate plot thread its way through the two previous plays to this entertaining finale.

Dialogue has an authentic feel but this is no comedy of manners. Some lines had the audience gasping in apparent embarrassment, others were holding their sides in recognition.

The ensemble was lead by Craig Richardson (Jacks) who has such warmth and wonderful comic timing he has always been the 'Lennie' to Paul Dunn’s Jerry. He still is, but here on the eve of Jerry’s funeral he has just a photograph to talk to.

Such is Dunn’s stage presence you’d think he was still on stage rather than just an image.

Richardson is tremendous and brings apparent frustration and amazement out of each of the other characters. His comic timing is faultless and his gormlessness at times both shocking and real.

Patricia L Whale, the long lost wife of Jerry, arrives to pay respects, our first surprise is sprung, she left not just carrying a broken heart but also Jerry's son. Whale is strong and strident one moment as the protective mother whilst touchingly vulnerable as more surprises are unleashed upon the audience.

Luke Maddison is a believable tormented young man in search of his father, but is it all too late when he does?

Brogan Gilbert has a tough job playing the young lady Vicar while hiding yet another surprise from the audience.

Steven Stobbs' beautifully-played cameo adds yet another layer of surprise in this very well-made play.

The audience loved it and this strong cast relished in their response.

It's Miller’s writing that paints such strong characters and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of his work on stage soon.