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

Newbury Dramatic Society - Taking Steps

30th October to 2nd November 2002.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Tiers of laughter

'Taking Steps', performed by Newbury Dramatic Society, at the Watermill, from 30th October to 2nd November

This is not a play that could normally be performed by amateurs, as it’s set in a three-storey house with the action taking place on all of the floors. By staging it at the Watermill, Newbury Dramatic Society were able to use a tiered set, which was the next best thing to three separate floors.

The play is classic Ayckbourn, dating from 1979. It’s a farce, and the fact that two of the three rooms are bedrooms gives an indication of what we are to expect.

Elizabeth (Sarah Deal), an impetuous and ambitious dancer, has decided to leave her older husband of three months, Roland (Colin Benham). Her brother Mark (Jim Gulliver) is her confidant but has relationship problems of his own with Kitty (Rachel Mackenzie) who left him on their wedding day. Meanwhile Roland is in the process of buying the house from builder Leslie (Andy Hamer), with help from the solicitor Watson (Ian Martin).

Sarah Deal was good as the rather vain Elizabeth, who ultimately turned out to be the most indecisive of all the characters, and she interacted very well with the rest of the cast. Jim Gulliver was another indecisive one; again this was a good performance, although his voice could have done with being a bit more boring, as it was supposed to have an instant soporific effect on those he talked to. Ian Martin had a difficult part – although gormless and not too bright, he also had to have the sexual allure to get the two females into bed. I felt he had not really solved the problem of merging these two strands in a convincing way.

Colin Benham was pompous and self-important – a role he has played to perfection many times – and his performance here was excellent; he really brought the play to life. Andy Hamer was just right as the devious builder, and Rachel Mackenzie dithered in a suitably dim way.

There are some very funny lines in the play, and director Roger Daymond made the most of these and of the impressive set. The pace flagged a bit in the second act, but this was a very enjoyable production from Newbury Dramatic Society.