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Ravensbury Players - Rebecca

17th to 20th November 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Pint-sized classic

Ravensbury Players: Rebecca, at the Memorial Hall Ramsbury, from Wednesday, November 17 to Saturday, November 20

The story of Rebecca is familiar from both the book and the film, so to squeeze all the action into a single room for the play sounds as though it could be claustrophobic, but it actually works well.

Maxim de Winter returns from a holiday in the south of France with a new young bride, who hasn’t realised what she is letting herself in for. You couldn’t help feeling sorry for shy, mousy Mrs de Winter as she was put down and humiliated by the guests and staff at Manderley. But as the complicated story unfolds, she increases in stature as she and the audience start to understand what has happened with Rebecca, Maxim’s former wife.

Tim Beckwith gave a rather understated performance as Maxim, who seemed to be a man of principle at first but in the end got away with murder. Jessica Perkins was outstanding as Mrs de Winter; her hurt and bewilderment at the insensitivity of the others were beautifully portrayed, and this was a performance of great subtlety.

There were really no redeeming features in Mrs Danvers, very well played by Chris Perkins who showed her as sinister, supercilious and bitter. The scenes between her and Mrs de Winter were riveting.

Cora Jackson and David Hobbs were very good as Maxim’s sister Bea and brother-in-law Giles, and brought a welcome touch of comedy. There were good performances from Peter Kearns, a bit snotty as Frith the world-weary butler, and from Gaye Adolph as Alice the maid (with a fruity Cornish accent). Graham Curtis was suitable nasty as the cad Jack Favell.

Dennis White was good as Tabb, the boat builder. This was his first performance with Ravensbury, and the other newcomers were Steve Nicholls as Crawley and Barry Mercer as Colonel Julyan.

Michael Franklin’s set had a good period feel, and the fire at the end was effective. The pace in Sheila Hobbs’ production flagged as time went on, particularly in Act Three, but this was made up for by the strong performances of the women.