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Silchester Players - Sand Castles

17th, 18th, 24th and 25th October 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Entertaining tales of the middle Englanders

Silchester Players Sand Castles, at Silchester village hall, on Friday, October 17, Saturday, October 18, Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25

An Englishman's home is his castle, or rather in the case of Silchester Players' latest production (last weekend and this), his sand castle.

Set in the very English world of beach hut owners, with their snobbery and unwritten rules, it is an amusing insight. Given the pedigree of author Bob Larbey (The Good Life, As Time Goes By) the script and characters are a little predictable. Nevertheless, director Keith Graham and the cast entered into the spirit of the piece and despite, I suspect, a few first night nerves which slowed the pace at times, it was a hugely enjoyable evening's entertainment.

The Pattersons who own number 20 are middle everything including aged and class - and want to defend the piece of sand in front of their hut against all interlopers.

John Coffin as William was philosophical and benign, though often enlivened by flashes of lechery. Gaynor Keef as Margaret was perfectly upright, uptight, and always ready with the teapot. The Billets of number 18 arrive, and after a exchange with the Pattersons decide to call each other by their first names (it has only taken six years to get this friendly).

Stan Billet, car salesman, was played with oily skill and a flair for comedy by Alan Moorhouse and was perfectly coupled by Jill Hutchins as the ghastly Bernice, with an even more ghastly voice and well lubricated by constant top-ups of sparkling white wine.

The owners of number 19 have done the unspeakable. They have rented out their hut. The arrival of the tenants, fish and chip tycoon Doug together with two nubile nieces (Nicola Bratt and Amy Carter) causes much consternation.

Brian Gillet as Doug confidently created a disarming and likeable character with excellent presence.

As Bernice's sister, Sarah Oliver gave an effective transformation, starting shy, and ending up going off with Doug to Portugal, and Caroline Statham reminded us of the Giles Grandma with her overcoat, umbrella and comments.

The three beach invaders Lyn Davies, Emma Williams and Helen Chesterman provided particularly strong back-up and great comedy as they sat-in with their windbreak.

The set was excellent with three colourful beach huts surrounded by a brilliant blue sky and sand dunes, and the lighting and sound effects set the summer scene perfectly on a cool autumn night.