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Progress Theatre

Progress Theatre

The Progress Theatre website is at www.progresstheatre.co.uk. You can find details of the Youth and Student Groups there.

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Where

Progress Theatre
The Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading RG1 5HL
Click here for a map.

Box Office

0118 960 6060, or via the web site at www.progresstheatre.co.uk.
Admin: 0870 774 3490.

Review of Colder Than Here

20th to 25th May 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Chilling thoughts

Colder Than Here, at Progress Theatre, Reading, from Monday, May 20 to Saturday, May 25

Death and its effect on the living is something we all have to confront and difficult to portray in the theatre. We all go with our own thoughts, our own prejudices, and our own values. Wade's play tackles these issues.

Carole Hewitt's Myra has terminal bone cancer arid is determined to die on her own terms, revealing a matter-of-fact approach to her condition. She wants to be in control. "You've got to keep yourself busy when you're off work with dying," she dolefully quips. What follows is a succession of 'awkward talks' that the family do not really want to have.

Husband Alec - a fine, restrained performance by Richard Tripp - seems indifferent, as if in denial. When challenged by his daughter as to how he can sit there reading the paper, he remarks: "A watched pot never boils".

Despite appearing to be a heartless man, he is practical. Although busying himself around the literally cold house, he is already grieving. His call to the heating company reveals more than the state of his boiler. The fear, as for all of them, is for the living. Can Alec and his daughters Harriet (Esther Walters) and Jenna (Samantha Bessant) cope emotionally without Myra's strength? It's quite clear at this point that they are a fractured family Moreover evident is that the illness is no more than a framing device for Laura Wade to explore family divisions.

I found the first half rather hard going; the pace unnecessarily slow, with weighty pauses and impassive stares. Such an approach may work in a menacing Pinter but not here. It was only in the second half that it gained any momentum as the four family members began to form the bond conspicuously absent in the earlier scenes.

However, it was all rather too late for my liking, and I found it difficult to connect.

Even the setting looked bleak; a minimalist set standing in for the family home and the proposed green burial grounds. There was very little divide. Maybe the lighting could have been used to greater effect. On a philosophical and cerebral level, it explored our views and approaches to death. However, as drama, it came across as appealing as the cold ground that summoned Myra.

DAVID STOCKTON

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