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Kintbury Players - Respecting Your Piers

19th to 21st April 2001.

Review of Respecting Your Piers from the Newbury Weekly News.

Well-cast for a frantic dash

'RESPECTING YOUR PIERS', performed by The Kintbury Players, at the Coronation Hall Kintbury from Thursday, April 19 to Saturday 21

On the face of' it 'Respecting Your Piers' by Peter Quilter is a simple comedy. Five women inherit a dilapidated pier. Plot begins. All of them are connected either by birth, marriage, divorce or employment to the deceased. Plot thickens. To save the pier they need money. Plot twists. Some laughs, some tears and a fake Shirley Bassey later and the plot is resolved A simple sprint to the finish? Well, almost. But could anything in two acts that span 11 scenes ever be quite that straight forward?

Director Jill Scrivener had lined up an excellent cast for this frantic dash over the hurdles. Debbie Spencer hit the nail on the head as Teresa, the daughter trapped between recapturing her lost childhood and the demands of her late father's two wives. Judith Nye gave a perfectly measured performance as Pam, the abandoned first wife, contrasting beautifully with Carole Balfour, and her genuinely-bereaved wife number two, Jackie. Add to this Chris Cutler's 'Betty the mad mother` and all you needed to complete the dream team was Jean Newlands and her powerhouse performance of Sharon the punk, P.A. to the deceased.

Managing that number of scene changes on a small stage is a tall order both for those on it and behind it. The appearance of Phil Scrivener in a one-piece bathing suit with a placard announcing each scene was a nice touch, but failed to distract attention from the times when loud bangs and thumps in the semi-darkness gave the impression that all was not well and changes under-rehearsed. As a result all the energy the cast had created had to be re-created at the start of each scene, a task that left the ending slightly under-powered.

However, the strong. characterisations and the obvious work that had gone in on the directorial side ensured that the plot may have thickened but never sagged.

Simple is never easy and this was always going to be a technically challenging play but, that said, when the curtain fell it fell to the sound of a rightly appreciative audience who had been royally entertained.