The Mill at Sonning
0118 969 8000
Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY.
Move Over, Mrs Markham, 18th April to 2nd June
By Ray Cooney and John Chapman. The setting is an elegant London flat belonging to the happily married Philip and Joanna Markham. Philip, a straight-laced publisher of children’s books, has reluctantly agreed to let Henry Lodge, his partner, borrow the apartment for the evening to entertain a new girlfriend. At the same time, Joanna Markham has allowed Linda Lodge to borrow the apartment so she can rendezvous with her lover. What nobody knows is that the Interior Designer has also decided that this is the night he wants to try out the new oval bed – with the au pair girl When the Markhams’ evening out is cancelled, it is too late to let any of the parties know and three sets of hopeful lovers all converge on the bedroom at the same time. The situation is further complicated by the arrival of Olive Harriet Smythe, a dour and successful authoress. The frantic efforts of the Markhams to hide the amorous goings-on and, at the same time sign up Miss Smythe, lead to a hectic and hilarious evening where, as in all farces, chaos and confusion reign!! The Mill is thrilled that Ray Cooney, the world-renowned master of comedy, will direct this play that he co-wrote with the brilliant John Chapman. Don’t miss this saucy, sparkling and riotously funny treat. You won’t stop laughing !
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.
Review of The Hound of the Baskervilles
1st February to 17th March 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Somewhat surreal, my dear Watson
Simon Williams has a fresh take on a classic at The Mill at Sonning
The Hound of the Baskervilles, at The Mill at Sonning, until Saturday, March 17
If you are going to attempt a new approach to a familiar Sherlock Holmes story, it is a good idea to keep the old and familiar words and phrases, even if they are used in a different way.
"Elementary?" asks Dr Watson. "I'm afraid so, yes," replies Holmes. And when somebody asks him how long something will take, he says probably a hundred years – "by which time they will have opened my house at 221b Baker Street as a museum".
This production certainly set out to be fresh and different from the outset. Actor/writer Simon Williams adapted Arthur Conan Doyle's novel as a surreal exercise, part tragedy, part comedy and never obeying traditional rules. The bleak, composite set by Michael Holt concentrated on craggy surfaces and a lot of dark wood, suggesting the open moors of Dartmoor.
As to sequences inside, action at the front of stage often overlapped or even continued as another scene was being lit and played out at the back of the staging area. Innovative and different indeed, even if it did take a little time to get used to what was going on. And a novel way of presenting life-like portraits was to have actors standing there, holding up picture frames over their faces. I know you should suspend disbelief in the theatre, but this was ridiculous.
Being new and different, this production, cleverly staged and directed by Thomas Daley, offered the actors the chance to ham it up and they took it gleefully. James Tucker and Darrell Brokis made a fine double-act as Holmes and Watson. Brokis was bumbling and in awe of Holmes' deduction prowess and Tucker was smooth, suave and a little arrogant as Holmes. No messing with those characterisations then…
Ajjaz Awad did very well as Mary and she also played Eliza, Beryl, Cartwright, Laura and a policeman – and helped operate the hound (explanation later). Awad must have been wondering all night which costume to jump into next.
Chris Myles was effective as Dr Mortimer, Stapleton and a policeman and managed to separate the characters nicely. Tom McCarron, Matthew Pearson and Gilbert Taylor rounded out a very strong, hard-working cast.
The scenes on the moor, very realistic, with dry ice creating real-looking fog and the hound baying hauntingly set up some edge of seat tension. A pity then, that the hound (a skeletal puppet with an actor behind, operating his movements) rather spoiled the effect. Surely an actor in a large dog costume would have worked – I've seen realistic dog-costumed people in panto recently. That minor blip apart though, this was a thoroughly invigorating, lively, amusing and at times frightening production.
For more details
see the Mill's web site at www.millatsonning.com.
Reviews in the Archive
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)