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Mortimer Dramatic Society - Trivial Pursuits

Trivial Pursuits by Frank Vickery, 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th October 2000.

A summer evening's barbecue is the setting for a meeting of the Trealaw and District Operatic Society. Next season's play is being announced but Nick, the Society's business manager, has promised a different show and the plum roles to four different people. As the evening progresses each character's foibles and talents are revealed and the complex relationships between players emerge as moments of pure slapstick and farce alternate with ones full of real drama and pathos.

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Beware the drama demons

'TRIVIAL PURSUITS' at St. John's Hall, Mortimer, on Friday, October 20

I wonder if you've ever had this experience? You watch a programme you really want to see on TV and then you lazily glaze over and watch the next as well. It could be a sitcom and you might titter a bit but then, about half way through, you suddenly think "Why am I watching this?" and you go and do something else instead. I had that exact feeling during the aptly named 'Trivial Pursuits', except that I couldn't switch off.

It wasn't the fault of the production at St. John's Hall, Mortimer: indeed, I am about to come over all complimentary about it in a second. But where on Earth did they find this play, and what mischievous demon persuaded them to stage it? I suppose they know their audience and rightly reckon that a light comedy will go down a treat, but there are plenty of light comedies around without having to dredge up something clearly labelled 'nougat' in the chocolate box of theatrical possibilities. I don't care if we did laugh sometimes. We could have laughed a lot more.

The cast gave it their all and mercifully drove the plot forward with a good sense of pace. I liked the realistic set which was finely executed. Performances were more than competent if none too subtle, but that is probably the fault of the script.

I particularly enjoyed Stan Emery's Derek. I was watching him at the start and even before he spoke I had a good idea of his depressed and boring character. Rose Roberts' Pearl was also well observed in a debut performance as the most sensitive member of the group. Tom Shorrock's extrovert Teddy was a favourite with the audience although I found him just a shade overdone at times, and John Burbedge's Nick was a good portrayal very well acted but I felt the director (Conrad Hornby) might have asked for Nick to be a little less neurotic in places.

In fact I congratulate all involved for their efforts. I look forward to seeing them again - always provided they avoid the butterscotch.