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Boundary Players - Alarms and Excursions

17th to 21st October 2006.

This was the NWN review.

Comic lament on the frustrations of modern technology

Boundary Players: Alarms and Excursions: at The William Penney Theatre, Tadley from Tuesday, October 17 to Sunday, October 22

Imagine a dinner party where there is an annoying beep and you've no idea where it's coming from, the oven is buzzing and the car alarm is screaming; or you're stuck at the airport, waiting for a lift, and all you can speak to is an answerphone; or you're trying to deliver a speech where the autocue operator (who you have just sacked) rebels and gives you his own speech.

These are just three of the scenarios in Michael Frayn's Alarms and Excursions, a group of eight pieces, highlighting the frustration caused by modern technology, presented by Boundary Players, directed by Mary Robinson and produced by Paul Robinson.

Frayn's scripts require razor-sharp timing, and while I felt Boundary Players had upped their game and were fairly secure in their delivery (well done - it was the first night), some of the interchanges were not quite slick enough to extract maximum comedy from the scripts. That said, there were some funny moments, and the cast delivered a thoroughly enjoyable evening's entertainment and a creditable performance.

Other pieces included Heart to Heart, where some very funny misunderstandings developed between a male and female at a party with loud music.

Doubles was cleverly written to show awkward complications and the dissatisfactions of holidaying from hotel to hotel on a daily basis, with two very different couples in two identical hotel rooms.

One of my favourites, Toasters, was full of visual comedy. Here there were three employees, all trying to do the right thing, like clapping, drinking toasts and going through a large book of statistics at once, while listening to the chairman's speech. Great stuff.

The simple settings worked well, and having sat at many a sound-desk, I would like to congratulate the sound effects department for the excellent job. There were many, many cues - all spot on - well done.