REVIEW: Withering Looks at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts


Audiences were treated to a hilarious take on the life and works of the Brontë sisters (well, two of them) at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts last night.

Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, the comedy duo behind LipService Theatre Company, opened the show with a friendly welcome from NIBHLS, their fictional Brontë family historical society. They quickly warmed up the crowd with their tongue-in-cheek humour and playful banter with each other.

It was an interesting and engaging format, having this “play within a play”, so to speak. The actresses switched seamlessly between their roles as the Bronte sisters and NIBHLS staff members – with a few surprise extras thrown in as well!

The basic set was all part of the premise that the historical society was facing budget cuts – a gag which became a theme of the show, with the actors going to increasingly ridiculous lengths to play additional characters, or explain their absence – conversations like, “Where’s Anne (the youngest Brontë sister)?” “Oh, she’s just popped out for some sugar”, became somewhat of a running joke. 

Fox and Ryding are an impeccable duo, with flawless comic timing and a flair for physical comedy. Through a series of sketches, they poke fun at the work of the Brontë sisters and the perils of 19th Century life.  

“Where’s Anne?”
“She’s dead.”
[Pause] “She won’t be wanting her breakfast then.”

It’s hard to do justice to the brilliance of this show. It was hilarious, rollicking fun from start to finish, and paired imaginative storytelling with creative and comic flair. The audience was in stitches throughout, and gave a standing ovation. 

Our verdict

Five stars! Even if you know nothing about the Brontë sisters, you’re guaranteed to be rolling in the aisles. 


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