Review: Wise and witty Waitress is a recipe for a great night out in Northampton

Emily-Jane Clark reviews Waitress at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 10:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 11:07 am
Evelyn Hoskins as Dawn in Waitress. Photo: Johan Persson
Evelyn Hoskins as Dawn in Waitress. Photo: Johan Persson

For a big old slice of fun and laughter, check out Waitress at the Derngate this week.

With catchy songs, an impressive set and some hilarious comedy, the hit show has all the ingredients for the perfect night out.

It was my first time back at the theatre since before Covid reared its ugly head, so I must confess I was a little nervous. However, I am glad to say the staff and audience members all wore masks in the auditorium throughout the show and the theatre was very well ventilated (clean air was being pumped in at regular intervals) so it all felt very safe.

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George Crawford as Ogie. Photo: Johan Persson

Waitress is the story of Jenna, a waitress and talented pie-maker whose life gets complicated when she finds herself pregnant by her possessive brute of a husband, Earl. She hatches a plan to enter a pie making contest and win enough money to leave him and make a new life for herself and her baby. But things get even more messy when she falls for her new handsome doctor, Dr Pomatter.

This may sound like a run of the mill rom-com, but it is far from it. This quirky, warm and wise show explores themes such as domestic abuse, feminism and motherhood and it wasn’t afraid to take risks. I especially liked how it portrayed a brutally honest account of first-time motherhood. Rather than show the more commonplace glossy ‘hashtag blessed’ version of pregnancy, it put into words the fear and anticipation felt by many first time mothers. As Jenna says: “I’m pregnant, but it’s not a party.”

The acting and singing was fantastic - especially from Aimée Fisher, who was covering the role of Jenna on Monday night. You would never guess she was the understudy as she made it look as easy as pie. She really shone on stage with her confident acting and fantastic singing voice.

Matt Jay Willis was charming as the permanently flustered Dr Pomatter and had the audience in stitches with his natural comedic ability.

Sandra Marvin as Becky. Photo: Johan Persson

Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins were also very funny as Jenna’s best friends and fellow waitresses, Becky and Dawn.

It is no surprise this show was brought to life by a female-led creative team as there is a real sense of girl power about it. Jenna, Becky and Dawn support each other through various challenges and are not afraid to takes risks in pursuit of their own happiness. It was also nice to see female characters who aren’t just two-dimensional stereotypes - they all had their flaws, quirks and their own unique stories.

Sara Bareilles’s slightly folky/soft-rock soundtrack really was the star of the show – with numbers such as the haunting She Used To Be Mine making most of the audience shed a tear.

Joyous musical numbers, flawless acting, fantastic comedy, and a talented orchestra (that doubled as customers in the Diner) made Waitress the perfect recipe for a fantastic evening (and made me really want to eat pie!).

* Waitress runs until Saturday January 15. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/waitress to book.