Bothered and bewildered

Date 12th November 2016
Society Holt Dramatic Society
Venue The Village Hall, Holt
Type of Production Play
Director Alison Pryke & Fiona Young


Author: Nick Lawrence - Councillor

Knowing that this group never fail to challenge its members and the audience this excellently crafted play was bound to stir up many emotions.  It was clear that many in the audience had, like the reviewer, been through similar circumstances and various scenes were strikingly familiar.  The play itself has a beautiful central love-story which added a wonderful warmth to proceedings.  This story on its own would have been sufficiently emotional, but wrapped in the all so relevant issue of Alztheimer’s Disease it provided an interesting and thought-provoking evening.

The decision to play with the audience on two sides, once again proved very successful.  Although sitting with the sisters in the Consultant’s surgery was a little too personal for me, it certainly brought the nature of the subject matter to the audience.  The central section of the living space worked very well with properties suggesting the secure world of Irene’s youth – lovingly looked after but so out of date.  Though simply stated the few items used said everything that was necessary.  The unchanging nature of this arrangement successfully suggested the familiar “safe” world in which Irene was surrounded.  The contrast with the doctor’s modern furniture brought out the stark differences.

The dramatic devise of the “invisible” friend works very well giving plenty of opportunity for the audience to get to the heart of what Irene is thinking.  Barbara Cartland was beautifully presented in the pink and fluff that she was so well-known for wearing.  This character’s involvement was well handled.  There were some lovely “off-the-ball” looks and gestures.  Thetemptation to overplay her was resisted and thus her relevance was maintained.

The youngsters were beautifully portrayed and James’s appearance was excellently handled.  The gentleness of his approach and the spotting of Irene’s give away reaction was excellently handled.  One was almost tempted to call out to Irene to call him back.  Meanwhile Shelley was so beautiful contrasted with the young Irene.  Oh, the difference between the periods.  How much life has changed. 

Making the most of the script, the sisters were well contrasted.  There was a clear bond between them although their approaches to the problem were so different.  Both actresses handled the roles well, keeping everything natural and seamless.  Their relationships with their mother and each other were carefully brought out.  The audience could easily identify with them and sympathise with both despite their different attitudes.  Also well played was the relationship between Shelley and the different sisters. 

Central to the success of the presentation was a very thoughtful and sympathetic creation of the role of Irene.  Maintaining the audience’s sympathy and never resorting to whining, Kate Palmer captured the various different scenes most genuinely.  Holding the audience’s attention her reaction to the other characters was beautifully measured. 

The atmosphere engendered by the Directors, Producer and the rest of the production team gave the actors licence to “live” their roles.  The obvious team effort provided a safe environment in which the script could be set free.  The whole team worked together so well producing a natural feel which allowed the audience to feel along with the characters.  There must have been a feeling of deserved satisfaction with the results of the labours and, one trusts, a group hug for Irene, so very much part of the team but forced to be so detached.