site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

New Era - Suddenly At Home

13th to 23rd June 2001.

This is from the NWN.

Thriller keeps you guessing

'SUDDENLY AT HOME', performed by New Era Players, at New Era Players Theatre Club, Wash Common, from June 13 to 23

Francis Durbridge's thriller, set in 1971, is from a genre that is not often performed today, so it was interesting that New Era Players had chosen to present such a 'classic' piece.

It's from a gentler age, far removed from the fast-flowing frenetic theatre we have come to expect. This is a good old-fashioned 'whodunit', with as many turns and twists as a roller-coaster ride.

Thirty-something charmer, Glen Howard, hooked on buying overcoats, wants only two things in his life, his wife's money and another woman to spend it with.

James Smee gave an excellent, believable performance as the scheming Howard. Calculating and always in control, he works out a seemingly foolproof plan to murder his depressed wife (Nicola Sowden) and implicate her former lover, detective story writer Sam Blaine, resplendent in a long purple velvet jacket, confidently played by Tim Stanton; while Howard escapes from the boredom of his life to Bermuda.

For the plan to succeed Howard needs the help of the enigmatic, drug-taking Sheila, a flamboyant actress, strongly portrayed by Kathleen Sharrett, but can he rely on her to become the new woman in his life or does she have a plan of her own?

Pam Hillier-Brook was impressive as Maggie's half-sister, always trying to remain calm and solve the problem of what has happened to poor Maggie. "All we can do is to tell the truth" is her response, as the police become involved when the body is discovered. Peter Knightley was the methodical, plodding Inspector and Peter Hendrickx was equally convincing as Inspector Remick.

Of course all does not run according to plan, especially when the au pair, convincingly played by Ruth Belcher, returns from holiday and the plot takes on a new dimension.

Brian Harrington's cream and brown set design captured the feeling of the '70s beautifully and Lisa Harrington's costumes recreated the flamboyant style of the decade.

Director Dawn Sellick should be justly pleased with this production. I've been asked not to reveal the final denouement but this tense thriller will keep you guessing right to the end.


And this was the Newbury Theatre short take.

Last week I went to see New Era doing Francis Durbridge's Suddenly At Home. As usual with New Era, it was a polished production, with a great performance from James Smee as the devious Glenn Howard. And, as usual with New Era, there were no prompts (one of my hobby horses) - other groups take note.