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Boundary Players - Deckchairs

21st to 25th October 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Oh we did like to be beside the sea

Boundary Players: Deckchairs, at the William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston, from Tuesday, October 21 to Saturday, October 25

Deckchairs performed by Boundary Players was a charming collection of short twist-in-the-tail plays by Jean McConnell, each involving two characters sitting beside the sea.

The players' set was simple but effective, with a background of rolling clouds, an atmospheric seaside soundtrack and a set that could be transformed from promenade to beach just by moving a few railings and props.

Even the stage manager Colin Webb and ASM Richard Mier appeared in beach gear and knotted handkerchiefs as they prepared each scene.

Director Alice Grundy's well-rehearsed cast tackled each playlet with relish. In the first, Day Trippers, Leigh Hewitt and Mary-Anne Mendum played two friends on a works outing.

Mary's bubbly and worldly-wise Beryl contrasted nicely with Leigh's outwardly straight-laced Doris. Hewitt's ability to eat her way through a picnic in the space of a few minutes was particularly impressive.

The second piece, Theatrical Digs, featured two struggling actresses who met on a promenade bench, only to discover that they were both competing for the same role.

This was probably the most difficult of the pieces to perform, and Julie Abbott as Maggie and Pat Archer as Pascaline struggled a little to bring out the changing relationship between the two as they move from antagonism to commiseration.

Late Frost was the most serious of the playlets, as a bereaved wife discovers her best friend's affair with her husband. Pat Archer (Pamela) and Leigh Hewitt (Kate) coped very well with the rapid twists and turns of this short piece, tackling the roles with great sensitivity.

Alice Grundy and Leigh Hewitt provided two delightful home-counties performances as Rosemary and Angela in Shoppers, an amusing item about two bag-laden shopaholics who are not all that they seem.

However, it was the last playlet, Doggies, that sent the audience away smiling. Davina Harris and Pat Archer were brilliantly matched as two very different and mutually disdainful dog-owners, and Pat finally stole the show with her pet pooch Robbie (a puppet reminiscent of Rod Hull's emu).

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening, served up with Boundary Players' usual attention to detail.