The Morality of Lying & Vita and Virginia

Date 9th September 2021
Society New Kinver Players
Venue Edward Marsh Centre KSCA
Type of Production Play
Director Phil Drinkwater
Director Roger Seabury


Author: Dave Brown

I was invited to see New Kinver Players (NKP) for a special evening to watch a double bill of award winning one act plays. Thank you ever so much for the invitation and the warm welcome.

The first play was an original script written by NKP member Gary Cattell who was also the stage manager for his play “The Morality of Lying”, directed by Phil Drinkwater with sound and light by Martin Ward and Frank Latham.

The structure of the play had some lovely moments of contrast leading to an overall effective and satisfying conclusion; alongside the direction, the pace was enjoyable, the tension was well thought out and silence was well used. I was very impressed with the writing, it also had loads of potential to hit harder and to delve deeper.

The plot seemed relatively simple at first, unwinding in a living room of husband-and-wife Derek (Pete Chambers) and Belinda (Sue Portsmouth) with a deliberate attempt to lead with a naturalistic style. The comfort and security of Belinda coming home after a hard day at work and Derek pouring the obligatory glass of wine seemingly supporting his wife was a relatable and safe opening.

Derek, a writer working on his laptop before Belinda arrived back home seemed nonchalant, the relationship seemed comfortable or did it portray two very different lifestyles? There were some obvious moments of resentment or boredom that Belinda showed towards Derek, then there was an interesting reaction of Belinda contemplating the surprise dinner plans when Derek revealed he invited a couple called Daniel (Bill Heeks) and Cherie (Georgina Johnston) over to join them for the evening. Things got even more interesting and uncomfortable when it was revealed that Belinda and Daniel had an affair. The stakes became high, reactions were believable and it raised genuine feelings of tension of what was going to happen next.

The play at times was deliciously sinister and manipulative and I craved for more of this. I would have liked to have seen more opportunities to explore the levels of Derek’s insanity, more odd behaviour, more intricacies and more nuances which could have been left to fester in the audience’s subconscious. Regardless of the above, this one act play had the right amount of essence and I am actually glad in the end that it didn’t give away all the answers.  

I hear that there is also a film adaptation by Howard Smith, this would be very interesting to see because of how it would translate on screen.  

After a short interval, the second one act play of the evening was called “Vita and Virginia”.

This play was originally written in 1992 by Eileen Atkins and it was inspired by the true correspondence, poetry and love letters between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf in the 1920’s at a time where there was a rise of carefree living. However, amongst all the partying, it was felt that a genuine passion emerged between these two incredible independent figures in art and literature.

Vita and Virginia were also both married at the time but had intense feelings of deep admiration and desire for one another which led to an affair. They both also sought inspiration for further novels and poetry based on their love. The most famous of course was the successful novel “Orlando” written by Virginia Woolf in 1928.

This version of the play was abridged by the cast and director with approval from the writer Eileen Atkins and it was absolutely stunning, stylish, eccentric, confident and honest and at times a true masterclass of the acting ability of both Emma Francis who played Vita and Ruth Cattell who played Virginia.

It was directed amazingly by Roger Seabury, the stage manager was Richard Delehaye and sound and light was created and managed again by Martin Ward and Frank Latham who complimented the actors with some lovely touches, bringing a nice feeling of closeness, the feeling of heartbreak as well as bringing out the energy when required. The play is so versatile, it would totally work in a black box performance space and based on the performance of Emma and Ruth it would be highly regarded in fringe venues.

Both actors brought so much life and empowerment to the characters, they appeared very comfortable and remained strong and the audience were engaged solidly throughout the performance. They both continued to show a natural playfulness and sadness that lifted the characters right off the stage, they listened, they enjoyed themselves and they trusted their instincts.

Overall, both plays were very high quality and they truly deserved each nomination, award and recognition. NKP have very talented members and are doing some great work. The evening was an extremely unique experience and I am looking forward to seeing their next play which is “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward in November 2021.