BELLES: THE REUNION

Date 30th June 2022
Society Portable Theatre Company
Venue Rothbury Jubilee Memorial Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Jan Turner
Musical Director
Choreographer
Producer
Written By Mark Dunn

Report

Author: Ken Allan

My first visit to the lovely Jubilee Memorial Hall in Rothbury to see The Portable Theatre Company’s production of Mark Dunn’s sequel ‘Belles: The Reunion’ was an absolute delight.

This unusual comedy drama is set in America’s deep south in Memphis, and concerns a dysfunctional family of six sisters, some of whom, over the last 25 years have become disconnected and estranged.

All of the dialogue over this crisis-filled weekend, between sisters or close friends and partners/ex-partners is delivered over the telephone. Each character being cleverly lit and directed in their own little ‘bubble’ during these sometimes mammoth sized monologues and duologue conversations.

First of all, we find out that Mamma has been a naughty girl and has removed all of her clothing - in front of the TV - in the community room of her care home. Peggy (Lynne Lambert) the oldest of the sisters rings her siblings to let them know, and during subsequent calls and discussions we hear about each of their individual problems and emotional upsets.

We also find that Peggy has been scammed out of all of her savings by an ex-boyfriend; Audrey (Susannah Clapcott) is in mourning for the death of her husband and only child and is looking for solace at the bottom of a bottle; Aneece (Sally Black) and Paige (Claire Barber) both have marital problems of one kind or another; Sherry (Diane Maughan) is a free spirit - albeit a bit of a laughing stock of the family - who also has partner problems; and Roseanne (Rosie Robson) has lost her faith after three failed marriages to three ministers of the church.

To add injury to insult, a cousin has asked the sisters to ‘beta-test’ her new candy, sent to them all in lovely little boxes, but containing a little more than just sweet things. The ensuing food poisoning helps to bring them all closer, as we see them slowly overcome their differences and after some good news, finally become a family again.

It would be wrong to single out any of the performances, as all of the cast were excellent and their strong characterisations and accents were equally so. The ‘off light’ acting was superb and was consistent all the way through the piece, as was the use of very apt costumes and props. A superb play very well performed.

Congratulations to Director Jan Turner and the whole PTC Team for a brilliantly set, poignant, emotional and thoroughly enjoyable night’s entertainment, topped off by a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience at the final curtain.

Thank you from Pauleen and myself for the invitation and hospitality.