Spirit Level

Date 5th November 2021
Society St Nicolas Players
Venue Spalding Services and Social Club
Type of Production Play
Director Martin Tyrrel

Report

Author: Stuart Bull

Spirit Level is a comedy about a young couple who move into a country cottage and are adopted by the house’s resident ghosts, a deceased famous writer and his wife, who decide to take the young couple under their wings and try to influence their lives.

Due to the unavailability of their usual theatre in Spalding (whose future is under consideration), it was performed on a very small stage in the hall of the Spalding Services and Social Club, which adjoins the bar at the club. Usually used for parties and bingo, the hall was laid out with chairs and tables cabaret style and the audience brought along food and drink to keep themselves going! This led to a convivial but at times noisy atmosphere. It wasn’t always easy to see the whole stage from where I sat – perhaps if the venue is used again consideration could be given to staggering the tables rather than arranging them in rows. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was good and the stage though small served its purpose well with suitable furniture and props.

A simple gatefold programme gave a synopsis of the plot, and colour photos of the cast, and Martin Tyrrell’s notes summed up the difficulties that all amateur societies have gone through with the pandemic.

Martin’s direction showed an obvious sure touch, with both the comedy and the sentimentality of the plot brought out admirably. The casting was very good, and all were very believable in their roles. I believe that it was Glen Barker’s debut with the society in the role of Jack Cameron, and he will be an asset to the society going forward. Laura Harwood as his ghostly wife was impressive, and Adam Patman and Dominique Spinks played the young couple convincingly, so that we became involved with their ups-and-downs and the progress of their pregnancy. Adam particularly used his expressive face to convey his emotions well. Linda Smith as the loathed mother-in-law, Nick Fletcher as the bewildered estate agent and Jules Jones as the Guardian Angel, complete with iridescent hair and flashing goggles, all played their supporting roles well. Other costumes were well-chosen too.

The challenge of putting on a play in such a small performing area was overcome well by the set design. Of course we were meant to be in the living room of a country cottage, so the choice of play helped. A play that involves solid people playing invisible ghosts requires a certain amount of ballet in the movements, so that the illusion of the ghostly invisibility is not shattered, and this was managed most of the time. There was the odd occasion when I was aware that the living person was maneuvering around the spirit but overall, it was managed well.

                One quibble that I have probably reflects the limitations of the venue. Most of the lighting was from the front, which meant that there was an annoying reflection of the lights from the glazing in the French windows. There was also a point at which the lights came back on, while the stage crew were still busy on stage. Other than that, the lighting was very good, and the Christmas tree scene was particularly effective. Diction and clarity of sound was generally excellent.

Stuart Bull

 6th November 2021