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Boundary Players - The Weekend

9th to 12th November 2005.

This was the NWN review.

Black humour needed pace

Boundary Players: The Weekend, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley, from Tuesday, November 9 to Saturday, November 12

The Weekend by Michael Palin was first presented at the Strand Theatre in 1994 and received mixed reviews. It was his first stage play which explores domestic life and family values with black humour and was chosen by the Boundary Players for their latest production, directed by Michelle Middledich.

The plot revolves around grumpy old Stephen Febble, who is faced with having to endure a visit from his family - his daughter Diana, her dreary husband Alan, their precocious child Charlie and - not least the dog, (who does unmentionable things all over the place). They descend upon him for a weekend of chaos, including a dinner party from hell. He tries his very best and succeeds in being difficult - it is enough to make him reach for the whisky (large amounts), and for the sarcasm (even larger amounts).

The players had all the ingredients for a good production and the cast characterisations, set and lighting were. Whether first night nerves affected the actors or they were simply under-rehearsed, it is hard to tell, but there were far too many prompts, which slowed the flow of the dialogue and gave an uncomfortable feel to the production.

Having said that, Steve Schollar created a perfectly irascible and unbearable Steven Febble and Sue Barham, as his downtrodden wife Virginia, gave a good performance, with lots of well-handled stage 'business'. George Mennary as Duff Gardner gave a sound and believable performance and Kirsten Johnston as Bridget Gardner, was suitably flirtatious with good facial expressions. David Stephenson turned in a suave (and slightly creepy) performance as Hugh Bedales the chiropodist who gives his clients that little bit extra attention. Completing the cast were Tony Darroch as the tedious Alan, Kathleen O'Riley as Diana his wife, Owen Darroch (a good juvenile performance as Charlie) and Davina Harris as Mrs Finlay the garrulous charlady.

Despite my criticisms, there was a good feeling of enjoyment from the first night audience and hopefully the production will have enjoyed a successful run.