The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
31st July to 2nd August 2014.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Prime time theatre
A fascinating production by TCHTC
The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, at Herongate. from Thursday, July 31, to Saturday, August 2
Set in the 1930s and fast forwarding to 1962, this stage adaptation of the best known of Muriel Spark's novels presented the story of Miss Brodie, a woman described in later life by a pupil as 'a romantic, but she does not respect the truth'.
That pretty much sums up the pretentious, rather arrogant school teacher who creates a set of impressionable schoolgirls in her own image and teaches them to love art, theatre and opera. Not too much wrong with that, but along the way she expresses her idolisation of fascist leaders like Franco and Mussolini in the 1930s and this proves, ultimately, to be her downfall.
A difficult play to perform, the Community of Hungerford Theatre Company worked hard under the well-paced direction of David Clayton.
Will Bailey and Matt Worth played the two teachers in Miss Brodie's life and Tessa Brown as head teacher Miss Mackay was consistent in her part, but perhaps missed some of the tension and dislike in her relationship with Brodie.
In the part of Brodie, Hoffi Munt gave a sustained acting performance, although the attempt at the exaggerated, refined Scottish accent can be a trap, one that she did not altogether manage to avoid.
As the older Sandy, who in later life becomes a nun, Maria Bowler-Hiscock gave a nicely underplayed performance and her Scottish accent was spot-on.
As young Sandy, schoolgirl Rouska Westall was completely convincing, particularly in the last scene with Brodie, who should have shown at least a hint of humiliation at her downfall. As the indomitable Miss Brodie though, she gets the last words, in voice-over.
All the actors playing schoolgirls and other parts worked well to produce a free-flowing, fascinating production.