A play oozing with sistership and comedy is the perfect guide to facing life’s challenges belly-first.
A Belly Full- written by Marcia Kash and Mary Colin Chisholm – tells the vibrant story of how seven women plucked from different paths of life are brought together by the art of belly dancing.
The production begins in the home of Marnie and Ravi, a young couple caught in a constant juggling act of caring for their newborn and managing a cake business.
Lesley Harcourt is brilliant as Marnie, acing the act of people pleaser, before blazing into a fit of rage when the cruel consequences of her inactive sex life unfold.
Dharmesh Patel as the charming but compulsive Ravi is highly impressive with his loveable personality and irresistible cheekiness.
The fragmented bond of partners Jane and Brian is also perfectly executed.
Sarah Edwardson gives an endearing performance as skittish Jane, a kind-hearted soul with every care for helping others but a blind eye when it comes to reviving her own relationship.
And Peter Hamilton Dyer as Sarah’s agoraphobic companion Brian is genius, mastering the intricacies of the disorder and evoking humour in the most unusual of ways.
Credit for comedy must also be handed to Jacqueline Roberts playing the exuberant and exotic role of belly dance guru Shalimar.
Faced with the challenge of teaching six ladies to dance, it is Shalimar’s rib-ticklingly blasé attitude to life that erases solemnity from the play.
Marnie and Jane’s enthusiastic dance peers include Sabina Franklyn as Rose, Gilly Tompkins as Tess and Alice Bell as Willow. And it is Rose’s glee, Tess’ nonchalance, and Willow’s ditziness combined with Maia Watkins floor-stomping portrayal of teenager Aleesha which promises a carousel of laughter.
A Belly Full is empowering, poignant and undeniably heroic.
I envision a successful future for the production and many stomach jiggling responses along the way.
A Belly Full runs at The Mill Sonning until June 15.
The Mill is a theatre close to Reading offering an authentic viewing experience. Not only does the theatre have a mill running through it, giving its guests a true feel of the village’s history, but an enjoyable meal is included with the ticket price.