Still Life and Red Peppers

Date 16th November 2018
Society Woodland Players
Venue Our Lady of Lourdes School Hall, Bristol
Type of Production Concert
Director Geoff Iles
Musical Director Neil Baker
Choreographer Geoff Iles


Author: Dee Way

Thank you for your kind invitation to report on your production of this duo of Noel Coward plays.  "Still Life" was the forerunner of the film 'Brief Encounter' while 'Red Peppers' is a comedy about two music hall performers with their back stage battles with management and other performers.  A musical interlude of Noel Coward songs and music completed the evening.  

The opening set suggesting a railway station cafe looked very good, with its tables and chairs, counter and bar, stove, windows, posters and flowers in vases.  The reversed lettering on the windows for "TEAS" and "BAR" and the double doors onto the platforms were very effective.  This set was later cleverly adapted to create the backstage/onstage scenery for the second of the plays, with dressing mirrors, cases, costumes, wigs, props and make up for each character.  This was all very well planned.

Hence, the Direction of the plays had taken good account of the changes required between each section and made the transitions very slick.  The action was well thought out in both plays and the tempo was nicely varied. "Still Life" developed some highly believable characters with excellent interaction between them, especially between the flirting couples.  This made a poignant contrast to the lead couple and their ill-fated attraction.  

In contrast, "Red Peppers" portrayed the fragile nature of theatrical performers' relationships very well, with all the pressures that go with stage appearances. The arguments and repartee here were excellently performed.   It was good to see that people cast in one play were required to play very different parts in the second play.

The music in the Interlude, devised by Neil Baker, was well chosen and nicely performed.  Seeing characters like Noel Coward and his friends come to life was inventive, and I liked the more modern twist given to the songs.  Having live music played for the Interlude was lovely, and gave great authenticity to the songs. 

Lighting was very good throughout, with cues closely observed. The sound effects of the station were good, although at times the steam trains were a little loud. The door sounds in the second play were very well done. Costumes were good and varied nicely between the sections of the evening, with wigs making the cast look very different at times. 

Altogether, this was a very entertaining evening of Noel Coward material, well acted, sung and played.  Thank you!