site search by freefind advanced

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

Mortimer Dramatic Society - Local Affairs

2nd, 3rd, 8th and 10th May 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Recipe for confusion

Mortimer Dramatic Society: Local Affairs, at St John's Hall, Mortimer, on Friday, May 2, Saturday, May 3, Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10

Local Affairs is a comedy about three different families, each coping with their own problems in similar houses on a new development. So similar are the houses, in fact, that one set (kitchen, sitting-room, bedroom) serves for all three houses.

And as the play progresses, the interaction between the three separate dramas - one couple battling with the husband's over-possessive mother, one struggling to prepare for a fancy-dress party, and one coping with their first separation from their young children - gradually become intertwined, with inevitable confusion all round.

Richard Harris' script provides great opportunity for hilarity as the plot gathers pace. Mortimer Dramatic Society, under the direction of John Burbedge, rose to the challenge with great enthusiasm, though the relationships between the three central couples lacked credibility at times, which meant that some comic moments lost their impact and the pace dragged a little at times.

Nevertheless, there were some fine performances. Tom Shorrock gave us some unforgettable moments as Charles the doctor, grudgingly parading himself as Marlene Dietrich, much to the consternation of the neighbours and of his wife Norma (Carol Burbedge). Darryl Manners, as the mother-fearing David, was nicely matched against Cathy Bowman as his long-suffering wife Hilary. Ross Williams was uncouth as biker Keith, while Marilyn Fleming handled the role of Keith's wife Susan with some sensitivity, particularly impressive as she had taken on the role with only 48 hours notice.

But the evening really belonged to the cameo performers. Megan Bush gave a delightful portrayal of David's mother, at once deeply manipulative and obsessively enthusiastic about the latest TV gossip. Helen Sharpe was hilarious as Katy, Keith's old flame who turns up on the doorstep following the failure of her latest relationship. And Graham Jerome, as the lecherous dandy Peter, was a joy to watch as he closed in despicably on the hapless Katy.

The three-part set worked well, and the costumes and props reflected the 1980s setting quite accurately. Despite a few problems with the pace, it was a very entertaining evening performed to a packed house.