Review of 'The Card'


“The Card” is a play based on the novel by Arnold Bennett telling the story of ambitious young man Denry Machin (Gareth Cassidy) who works his way up the success ladder, taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, to eventually become mayor of Bursley. Along the way he finds love then true love as well as what is really important in life. Sure, some of his actions are slightly dubious but it is kindly and loveable character that endears himself to everyone.

Despite this novel being published more than 100 years ago the story is engaging and amusing. Here the choice is to keep the Victorian-era feel to the play. Denry is a kindly, likeable character that quickly endears himself to the audience. The sets are quite simple with great use made of the physical theatre presence instead. A small on-stage brass band (Acceler8 Band) come onto the stage, sit off to the side, leave the stage, appear in the upper levels of the theatre, come in through another entrance…and they are not the only ones as the performers do the same. It is not unusual to have scenes delivered from the staircases in the audience or co-opting the assistance of audience members in the performance. There is also a great use of the round theatre, with no seat having a bad view of the action which proceeds very quickly.

The cast are incredible, regardless of age as they make great use of the entire theatre space. Cassidy puts on a stellar comedic and dynamic performance as Denry, showing an amazing amount of physical dexterity with almost plastic-like facial features. It is his compelling performance that dominates the show alongside the incredibly involving staging. The supporting cast are equally dynamic, often filling multiple roles in the quickly changing scenes.

A light but fun play from the master Arnold Bennett.

The running time is just over two hours plus an interval of 20 minutes. The small program has a couple of interesting articles but is otherwise unremarkable.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-06-02

New Vic Theatre

Location: Staffordshire (England)

Address: Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0JG ENGLAND

Telephone: +44 (0) 1782 717 962


A wonderful modern, local theatre “in the round”. There is a restaurant and bar area on the first floor. Parking is available in the back (shared with local businesses) for a small fee during performances.