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Silchester Players - Time and the Conways

19th to 20th and 26th to 27th May 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Cause and effect

Silchester Players unlock something unpleasant lurking in the Conway family

Silchester Players: Time and the Conways, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, May 19, Saturday, May 20, Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27

J.B. Priestley was intrigued by time, and in this play he explores how misty glimpses into the future might compare with, or even affect, real events. Acts 1 and 3 are set in 1919, on Kay’s 21st birthday, with Act 2 happening 19 years later on her 40th birthday. This arrangement lets us discover, in Act 3, the reasons why the family’s lives turn out the way they do.

The 19 year time difference presents challenges for the actors, but director Alan Moorhouse not only ensured that all the characters had distinctively different personalities but also brought out the changes that time had made to them.

Helen Chesterman, as Kay, is the one who has the glimpses of the future and is, understandably, disturbed by them. This was a good performance, moving from the optimistic 21-year-old to the world-weary 40-year-old, full of self doubts.

Sarah Oliver, as Hazel, and Mandy Larby, as Joan, both handled the transition into downtrodden wives very well. Jo Nobbs was an enthusiastic and vivacious Carol. As Madge, Caroline Martin’s change from an idealistic young woman to an embittered, butch, schoolmistress spinster was remarkable; this was a strong performance.

Mrs Conway (Lyn Davies) wants to have her children around her, but can’t resist putting them down; her selfishness is matched by that of son Robin (Brian Gillett). You could see why the two of them were so close.

I really liked Nick Lock as Alan, the unambitious oldest son who is deeper than he seems (“I wonder if you’re happy inside or just dull”). A thoughtful performance, full of conviction.

Tony Oliver was the rather stodgy solicitor Gerald, and Keith Graham was suitably nasty as the successful businessman Beevers.

The pace was good, although there were too many prompts, and the set and costumes were opulent and well suited to the periods.

This was an interesting play, exposing the unpleasantness that can lurk in families and also taking a rather bleak view of how youthful hopes and dreams can turn to disappointment and disillusion.