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Ravensbury Players - Battle of the Sexes?

23rd to 26th April 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Mix and matches

Ravensbury Players: Battle of the Sexes, at the Memorial Hall, Ramsbury, from Wednesday, April 23 to Saturday, April 26

To stage five plays (plus a ploughman’s supper in the interval) in one evening, as Ravensbury Players did with Battle of the Sexes?, is an ambitious undertaking, but it’s a good opportunity to try out new actors and directors.

The evening got off to a great start with Brenda and Jerry, a scene from the full length play Lovers and Other Strangers. Jerry (Mark Alder) is trying to get it on with Brenda (Jess Perkins) but she wants a less hands-on approach. There was very good acting from these two, and the best American accent of the evening from Jess Perkins. Director Harvey Fremlin also directed the fourth play, Hal and Cathy, again from Lovers and Other Strangers. Hal (Tim Beckwith) is married to Bernice but is having an affair with her sister Cathy (Dawn Gill). The scene ends with some delightfully twisted logic from Hal. Both these playlets were great fun, and left me wanting to see the whole play.

The second play was David Tristram’s Joining the Club. Tom (Harvey Fremlin) has picked a bad day to resign from his job, as his wife Jenny (Sophie Barfield) has just discovered that she’s pregnant. As she is the main earner, finances are going to be a bit tight. This was an amusing short play, directed by Jessie Gunton, with strong performances from both actors. 

Third up was Alan Ayckbourn’s Drinking Companion, directed by Matthew Haynes. This was much longer than the previous two, and it seemed it; not Ayckbourn’s best. Harry (John Barker) is staying in a northern hotel on business and trying to hide his loneliness by chatting up Paula (Samantha Wells). Paula is rescued by her friend Bernice (Gillian Leake) and they manage to dump Harry. I felt that John Barker seemed too drunk too soon, but the pathos in his monologue was touching. A splendid performance from Gillian Leake, hard as nails, but removing her chewing gum before each sip of her drink.

The final play was the extremely silly Blue Suede Blues by Diana Raffle. The least said about this the better, but it was redeemed by a lovely performance from Cora Jackson as Lil.

A mixed evening with good acting and some very enjoyable moments.