Using the words of those closely involved and affected Too Much Punch For Judy by Mark Wheeller tells the powerful true story of a tragic accident that befell two sisters one night in 1983.
This play opens with a nostalgic look back at the 1983, with the introduction of breakfast television, the pound coin and CDs. But it’s the fashion, the music, terrible dancing and reactions to the terrible chat-up lines that demonstrates the special bond between the two sisters.
There are funny moments leading up to that fatal decision when everything changes – and many people will recognise the arguments and excuses happening up and down the country after a night out, even if they have only overheard others having them.
However the horror of the crash is a sobering reminder of what can happen to anyone who drinks and drives. The crash was effectively choreographed by Jessica Ramsey, and lit by Christopher Silvester, to show one sister dying and the other regaining consciousness, relatively unharmed.
The message was driven home by the black and white photographs of the wreckage of the car projected onto the curtains.
Alice Imelda was superb as Judy (pictured above right), on her journey from brash and outspoken to confused after the crash in hospital and refusing to believe her sister Joanna was dead.
Also putting in standout performances were Edward Mitchell as PC Caten; Richard Blackman as Duncan who is first on the scene at the crashed car; Hilary Burns as Judy’s mum Vi and Chloe Orrock as PC Abrahams and Nurse Davis.
It is not heard to see why Too Much Punch For Judy has been performed around the world for more than 25 years, and was added to the GCSE syllabus, as it raises many questions about whether we really learn from our mistakes.
This production, directed by Alexander Cobb, was particularly poignant knowing that Alana Ramsey, who plays Joanna, runs JR Theatre Company with her sister Jessica (both are pictured above). Associate producer and sound was by Fraser Stainton.
JR Theatre Company are regulars at the Camden Fringe – having staged Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens in 2015; and Godspell with a female Jesus last year.
Too Much Punch for Judy is being performed Upstairs at the Gatehouse on Thursday 24 September and Saturday 26 September at 9.15pm, Friday 25 September at 7.30pm and Sunday 27 August at 5pm. Tickets are available from camdenfringe.com.