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

The Rep College - Three Birds Alighting on a Field

21st to 23rd November 2002.

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Masterly performers

'THREE BIRDS ALIGHTING ON A FIELD', performed by The Rep College, at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, November 21 to Saturday, November 23

Although I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, who could resist the chance to see Rep College in action? So when the call came I was there, bright and early and full of anticipation.

I could devote the whole 350 words to trying to explain the plot, sub-plots, themes and issues or I could simply say that past experience has taught me that companies tackling this playwright's work tend to veer towards dogged earnestness as they become fixated with the task of putting over the 'message'. Maybe that's because I've only seen amateurs (like myself) indulging in angst and anguish. However 'amateur' is not a word in the Rep College vocabulary.

Under director David Tudor, these 16 actors created a world where cultural identity is a commodity to be bought and sold like the season's 'must have' accessory in a series of well-choreographed scenes performed in the round. The opening auction and the subsequent scenes set in the gallery created an intimacy that, coupled with the authority of the acting, gave you hope that no matter how confused you were at the beginning, you were in the very capable hands of these master storytellers.

Sadly, the mainly student audience seemed unable to support the cast as they nailed the ironies and innate comedy of their characters' lives and observations, but perhaps the ability to laugh at oneself is an age thing. Lydia Gledhill (Marianne), Sian Keyse (Jennifer) and Vanessa Grey (Biddy) were prime examples of actors who listened to what their characters were saying rather than simply reciting the script. As such they found the humour and the irony of a world speeding towards uncertainty while at the same time giving full rein to exploring the darkness of their lives.

There were some equally dark murmurings during the interval. But it's always easy to be picky when you're in the comfy seats. Question. Would your 'different' be better? I doubt it. Once again Rep College need no apologies. These are working actors who would alight perfectly in any field.