The Mill at Sonning
0118 969 8000
Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY.
The Unexpected Guest, 7th June to 28th July
A dark and foggy evening causes a driver to run his car into a ditch. He makes his way to an isolated house where he discovers a woman standing over the dead body of her wheelchair-bound husband. A smoking gun is in her hand. What’s more she admits to murder. Then surprisingly the unexpected guest offers to help her concoct an alibi. But is it possible that Laura Warwick did not commit the murder after all? If so, who is she shielding? As the ghosts of a past wrong begin to emerge, a tangled web of lies reveals family secrets and chilling motives, where the real murderer turns out to be the greatest mystery of all! This intriguing ‘whodunnit’ by Agatha Christie twists and turns towards an edge-of-your-seat climax. Leaving you guessing until the last chilling moment. See the reviews below.
Ten Times Table, 2nd August to 22nd September
Long due a revival, TEN TIMES TABLE is a play so funny that it displays playwright Alan Ayckbourn at the top of his game. Alan is a genius at analysing ordinary people in everyday situations. We follow the planning and disastrous outcome of a group of members of The Pendon community as they plan their small town's first pageant. The pageant is to be based on a long lost piece of local history - The Massacre of the Pendon Twelve - where the Earl of Dorset crushed an uprising of rebellious workers. As the meetings in the run down Swan Hotel progress, we see a natural divison between right-wing supporters of the patronising middle-class Helen, versus the bolshie left-wing teacher Tim and his two adoring female groupies. All have very different views of what the pageant should be and what it represents. Battle commences. The day of the pageant arrives. And what was a mock-up of the event now becomes the real thing as both sides clash with hilarious and riotous results!
A Night in Provence, 27th September to 17th November
By Robin Hawdon. Ah Provence! Ah The French Riviera! Where optimistic holidaymakers rent luxury villas for exhorbitant sums in order to get their annual fix of sun, sea, and haute cuisine. However, imagine the crisis if one such sumptuous place was double booked. Worse - imagine it triple booked! By a French couple - Maurice and Yvette; an English couple - Fred and Judy; and begorrah, an Irish couple - Shaun and Moira. Marriages have floundered on less. Add the ingredients of copious amounts of sparkling champagne, heightened sexual attractions, to say nothing of deep-seated cultural differences, all this makes the current Brexit negotiations seem a snip!
Reviews of The Unexpected Guest
7th June to 28th July 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Blessed puts his mark on Christie mystery
The Unexpected Guest, at The Mill at Sonning, until July 28
A man runs his car into a ditch on a dark, misty evening in a remote part of South Wales and walks over to an isolated house for help. Inside he finds a dead man slumped in a wheelchair and a woman standing near him holding a gun in her right hand. She confesses to having shot the man, her husband, and he offers to help her. Just the starting point for one of Agatha Christie's intriguing murder mysteries.
Directed by Brian Blessed, the play started in fairly conventional manner, with Sean Browne as the man playing it as a brisk, fairly efficient fellow and Kate Tydman as Laura giving an edgy, nervous performance as one in her predicament would do.
As the first scene progresses we eventually meet Rosalind Blessed as Miss Bennett, who is quite loud and extrovert, Luke Barton as the dead man's brother Jan, Diane Keen as his mother Mrs Warwick and towards the end of this scene – a director's touch no doubt – George Telfer giving a menacing performance as he enters as Angell, stony-faced and silent, to a loud drum beat heralding the end of the scene.
In Scene Two, we meet the police inspector, Noel White playing it straight and efficiently, and his sidekick Alexander Neal as the sergeant who plays it for comic touches.
Last to arrive on set is Patrick Myles, who gives a studied performance as the rather brittle and selfish Julian, a man who has been having an affair with Laura. At the end of this scene Laura starts to sing the popular song of her name and a recording by Frank Sinatra finishes it off for her as the lights dim.
To open Act Two, we hear the unmistakable voice of Brian Blessed as a radio announcer presenting a Paul Temple play; a nice touch this and a good way for the director to put his personal mark on the performance. Mind you I'm surprised that he didn't go the whole Alfred Hitchcock hog and appear briefly outside the French windows as a gardener, holding a rake, but then I mustn't put ideas into his head.
There were some really striking individual performances, not least by Luke Barton who portrayed a man with learning difficulties sympathetically and George Telfer as Angell, who got a round of spontaneous applause for the scene in which he attempts to blackmail Julian.
This was a lively and highly-entertaining production directed with flair by that master performance artist Brian Blessed, who kept up the original touches right to the very end, as he had the police inspector Noel White blowing his whistle furiously during the curtain call.
There are reviews from The Reviews Hub ("some definite stand-out performances here... pinpoint comedic timing" - 4 stars); The Stage ("Brian Blessed directs a good looking but poorly paced murder mystery that's well past its prime" - 2 stars); the Maidenhead Advertiser ("the play is perfect for the cosy amphitheatre of the Mill... perfectly cast with all of the characters fully realised... highly recommended")
For more details
see the Mill's web site at www.millatsonning.com.
Reviews in the Archive
Move Over, Mrs Markham (April 2018)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (February 2018)
My Fair Lady (November 2017)
Perfect Wedding (September 2017)
Spider's Web (July 2017)
Improbable Fiction (March 2017)
Dead Simple (January 2017)
High Society (November 2016)
The Hollow (July 2016)
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (March 2016)
The Perfect Murder (January 2016)
Stepping Out (November 2015)
Round and Round the Garden (October 2015)
Love, Loss, and What I Wore (August 2015)
Killjoy (May 2015)
Educating Rita (January 2015)
Last Confessions of a Scallywag (July 2014)