10th October 2019
St Johns Players
The Swan Theatre, Worcester
Type of Production
Author: Bruce Wyatt
This iconic play by Mike Leigh set in the lounge of Beverley and Lawrence’s home in the 1970s, was presented in the Vesta Tilley Studio at the Swan Theatre, which provided an intimate space for this production by Dave Scott. Suburbanites Lawrence and Beverley are entertaining their new neighbours, Angie and Tony as well as Susan, whose teenage daughter Abigail is having a party to which Susan has been dis-invited. Over drinks and snacks, clichés and fatuous small talk abound.
‘Beverley’ and ‘Lawrence’, played well by Christine King and Barry Ellis clearly have an antagonistic relationship that is wearing thin; Beverley fancies herself as a party host whilst Lawrence is stressed with work, frequently goaded by Beverley whilst endlessly fulfilling her instructions. The part of Beverley is considerable and Christine carries it off with a great accent and tone of voice. Barry is a good match whilst Lawrence tries his best to entertain by sharing his interests with the guests who are not entirely receptive.
Angie and Tony also have a strained relationship. ‘Angie’ played by Julie Sadler provides a wholly natural performance, simple and straight forward, but decisive when necessary. ‘Tony’ played well by Adam Bullock was clearly not wishing to be there at all or for getting involved in the conversation. Beverley is forever topping up the drinks, takes a shining to Tony’s foot-ballers legs, encourages him to dance with her, creating the required and perfect awkward moments.
Meanwhile ‘Sue’ (Kerry Horne) falls ill unable to’ hold her drink’ and becomes increasingly anxious about the potential goings on at her daughter’s party. Kerry’s demeanour was spot on.
Had it been possible I would have liked to have seen the back of the set decorated for the era, but the furniture; from the fibre optics, the drinks trolley and Lawrence’s complete works of Shakespeare, were particularly authentic. In addition the lighting and sound effects headed by Steve Willis were excellent.
This production moved at an excellent pace, made the audience laugh and feel awkward at the same time, concluding with a well- timed crescendo. I look forward to ‘Duets’ by Peter Quilter to be staged next March.