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Boundary Players - Lettice and Lovage

19th to 23rd October 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Lettice without language?

Boundary Players: Lettice and Lovage, at the William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston, Tuesday, October 19 to Saturday, October 23

I had looked forward to seeing Peter Shaffer’s play in this delightful theatre. It has a witty and intricate script, and the last production I saw by the Boundary Players was well done and very entertaining.

This time, director Mary Robinson had clearly tried her best when we saw it on the second night, but was let down by the main actor. The zany central character Lettice Douffet carries almost the entire script and delights in language, but Michelle Middleditch didn’t know all her lines, and consequently her portrayal had no credibility and the play lacked sincerity and sparkle.

Pat Archer gave a competent and well-focussed performance as Lotte Schoen, despite the dispiriting wig, but even she lost energy as her opposite number floundered and panicked through her very insecure portrayal of Lettice.

Steve Schollar’s bemused solicitor, Mr Bardolph, brought some pace and a real comic feeling to the final scene, but by then it was too late.

There were some nice touches; the sets were cleverly designed, although the doorframes were an unnecessary hindrance, and the clock was another irritation. Having established the interview was to take place at 3pm, we didn’t need a clock to remind us, especially as the hands remained at 3pm throughout the entire scene. If the hands don’t move, don’t use it!

The first entrance through the auditorium, the multi-character tourists, and Miss Schoen’s unexpected intervention from the audience were well executed. But by the interval my friend wanted to go home and I couldn’t blame her.

Every time Ms Middleditch sighed and clapped her hands at the ends of lines, her performance became increasingly irritating and melodramatic. Better luck next time, Boundary Players.

I also wish them luck as they face a proposal to demolish the buildings which houses the theatre. I hope those responsible for it will appreciate how important it is to incorporate a theatre in the new development.