25th November 2017
War Memorial Hall, Canvey Island
Type of Production
Author: Tessa Davies
Being a big fan of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays, I was looking forward to this production. Cast & Crew have a philosophy of enabling members to have a go at many aspects of theatre and they regularly have different directors. Lou Brewster, on this occasion, has done a very good job. Its not an easy play to direct and, in the wrong hands, could be very confusing. Alan Ayckbourn is renowned for writing plays featuring the foibles and aspirations of mere humans, Neighbourhood Watch is no exception.
The play begins at a service to open a garden in memory of her late brother, Martin (Matthew Willis) where Hilda (Sarah Lepley) delivers a eulogy to him. Flashback four months when Hilda and Martin are waiting for their housewarming guests from residents of the Bluebell Hill Development. Martin took great exception to the sight of a youngster apparently trespassing in the garden. He duly chases the youngster off and takes, from him, a case which he believes is possible stolen property.
Martin decides forthwith to start up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme for the local area and enlists several neighbours to be on the committee. These included Dorothy Doggett, a real gossip monger, played by Trudy Ann Britnell; Rod Trusser, a stolid former security guard (Martin Lepley) and husband and wife Gareth (Andy Shore) and Amy (Coral Baker) Janner who have serious marital problems. We also met Magda Bradley (Lyinsie Sholaim), a quiet musician married to Luther (Mark Gopal) who can only be described as thuggish and belligerent.
Rod advises Martin of the dangers of the nearby council estate and recommends he erect a fence, despite the realisation the youth was an innocent pupil of Magda taking a shortcut home. Amy, Gareth's wife who is having an affair with Magda's husband Luther, arrives late and flirts with Martin. This meeting is interrupted when Martins favourite gnome, Monty, is thrown through the window. Martin and the committee declare war.
Two weeks later, Bluebell Hill has become a gated community with security fences, armed patrols and Martin intent on reclaiming the streets. Despite his fervour and much to Hilda’s disgust, he has fallen for the temptations of Amy, who has asked him to save her.
In the meantime, Magda reveals she is being abused by Luther so Martin and Hilda offer her shelter in their home. With the media showing interest in Bluebell Hill, plans are made to prevent anyone speaking out against Martin.
This uses one of the more volatile local families to control a troublemaker on the council estate but it all goes wrong; the police arrest all but one family member who seeks retribution by setting the house next door to Martin's house alight. Hilda, convinced her garden statue of Jesus is in danger, has Martin rescue it but in doing so, he is ordered by the police to put down his ‘weapon’. Pleading his innocence but continuing to hold the statue, Martin steps out into the garden and is shot. The action at the end revealed all manner of secrets culminating in some unexpected results.
All the members of the cast played their parts extremely well., with each showing the different characters. The set was simple with suitable furnishings and props. The lighting was fine and the sound effects were very good. A very enjoyable interpretation of the play.