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The Rep College - Travels With My Aunt

22nd to 24th January 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

The risk pays off for Reps

The Rep College: Travels With My Aunt, at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, January 22 to Saturday, January 24

If you are familiar with the plot of Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt, you will already know that Henry Pulling's Aunt Augusta turns out to be a bit of a girl.

If you were lucky enough to catch director David Tudor's Rep College cast performing this play at New Greenham Arts, naughty aunty turned out to be not just a bit of one girl but the combined talents of five fine performers.

This in itself is no mean feat. However, managing to keep the characterization consistent across five visually very different actors is a challenge not all companies would dare contemplate, let alone achieve with such aplomb.

On the face of it, this story of unknown parentage, Rastafarian lovers, stolen art treasures, escaped war criminals, money laundering and dahlia-growing, that begins in a crematorium ant ends in a Paraguayan mansion, is a merry romp around the world and contains enough fun and frolic to keep its audience on its toes.

Underneath lies the moral maze - to quote Aunt Augusta, one should "never suppose yours to be the better morality" - the conclusion being that the location of the moral high ground is built more on time, place and circumstance rather than a universal set of rules.

Cast 22 parts across a team of nine players and somebody is always going to get something right. However, to getting it spot on across the whole cavalcade of disparate beings was a testament to the hard work of all concerned.

Big parts are easy. Where this cast added value was in the vignettes with few lines, fewer moves and stunning accuracy Ruth Garden's portrayal of Miss Paterson, Anna Cullum's Miss Keene, Susanne Martin's Tooley and Tom Wifen's Wolf all spring to mind as cases in point.

Andrew Yenning and Mark Henderson both gave well-measured performances in the central role as 'twin' Henry Pullings, bowler hatted and delightfully bewildered.

However, without the skill of the supporting players would we have thrown caution to the wind and settled in Paraguay or simply returned home to cultivate our dahlias?