WILDEST DREAMS

Date 2nd February 2024
Society Breakaway Theatre Company
Venue Maltings Theatre, St Albans
Type of Production Play
Director Lesley Cowland

Report

Author: Nova Horley

I am always made to feel so welcome at a Breakaway production, which enhances the experience for me. 

Wildest Dreams was a new play for me, and what struck me immediately was the excellent use of the performance space, housing all three sets required for the piece, which meant seamless progression, which was excellent as it was a fairly long play!

I liked the sets, which although fairly basic, gave the right feel for each person involved.  I had one small point – when Marcie and Warren were in his bedroom, at one stage his laptop was open and it completely obscured Marcie’s face, which was a shame as the dialogue was quite important at that stage.

Lighting was good throughout, and projection from the whole cast meant every word was heard, which was essential to our understanding of the various situations evolving.  I know it was difficult, but sound effects came from the wrong side of the stage for Rick’s room – which was a little confusing!  However, the effects were very good. Costumes seemed to work well, and were suitable for each actor and the part they were playing.

I used the phrase “strangely enjoyable” when speaking to the Director, as it was quite dark in places and very quirky, but I did enjoy it and was anxious to see what was going to happen.

The play was very well cast and everyone gave us good characterisations.  I felt a little more pace could have been injected at times, as the running time was rather longer than most plays.

The central couple, Hazel and Stanley, were played with great attention to detail by Malcolm Coakley and Elaine Hartless.  Malcolm’s facial expressions, which belied the words he was saying, were very well-studied, and Hazel’s regression to childhood was very well acted. I really believed in them as a long-term couple, Ayckbourn always injects telling but believable dialogue, and this was delivered with varying degrees of acceptance and angst – an excellent pairing.

Clare Waller played the repressed Rick with just the right degree of anguish, showing her softer side with Marcie, a difficult character which Clare got exactly right.

Joseph Smyth as the teenager Warren, gave us a very impressive portrayal of a young man who believes he is an alien, and all the influences he was prey to – very well done.

Zara Radford as the flighty Marcie injected a lightness into the seriousness of the piece, I enjoyed her relationships with the rest of the cast, stirring up feelings and situations between the other characters.  Nazim Uddin as Marcie’s husband Larry, created a very menacing character, which contrasted well to Marcie, I liked his input, it added another dimension.

Jeff Best played Austen, Hazel’s brother, with the gravitas the part deserved, and showed just how annoying someone who thinks he knows everything can be – a very telling part well-played.

Ruth Ling completed the main cast as Warren’s mother, mostly a voice off stage, but good expression.  Other off stage voices were played with conviction by Lesley Cowland and Richard Hartless.

Overall, a very good interpretation of a difficult play, with a good cast and Director.  My thanks to Breakaway for their hospitality – always much appreciated.

Nova Horley                    NODA Representative - NODA East District 3

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