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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Newbury Dramatic Society - Ladies Who Lunch

1st to 3rd May 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Food for thought

Newbury Dramatic Society: Ladies Who Lunch, at New Greenham Arts, from Thursday, May 1 to Saturday, May 3

There are so many plays available for amateurs to perform, but it's often difficult to find one that ticks all the boxes in terms of a society's membership, talents and audience appeal.

Despite its success on the amateur circuit, Newbury Dramatic Society's choice of Ladies Who Lunch by Tudor Gates, did not hit the spot for me, despite some strong performances from the cast.

The setting was three different locations, the homes of three very rich couples in London, New York and Sydney. There, the wives of three of the world's richest men met to pursue their charity work for Save Our Starving, their favourite charity. They devised an audacious plan to increase their fund by using inside information extracted underhandedly from their husbands, play the stock market and raise a hundred million pounds. Needless to say, all does not go according to plan.

As the aforementioned rich husbands, Ed Tomlin (Sir John Sasson) turned in a smooth and convincing performance befitting his status, while Richard Tripp (Ken Stocks) in contrast conveyed his more down to earth and flash character well and Mike Brook (Harry Milchan) effectively brought out the angst in his character.

But it was the actors playing the parts of the wives who had to carry the production, and Tonya Walton as Lady Amelia Sasson gave an accomplished performance with excellent delivery and skilfully held many of the wordy scenes together.

Jane Minchin (Joane Stocks) created a super, larger-than-life and colourful character and maintained a convincing Australian accent - not easy. After a rather understated start, Zandra Forder (Rachel Milchan) settled well into her role. Elizabeth West in her dual personas (Gerry Sasson and D. L. Wallis) gave us a stroppy teenager and a confident investigator, complete with Texas drawl. Well done.

While the set showed some ingenuity, with the back window scene changing to depict location, more could have been done to dress each - after all, the occupants were meant to be incredibly rich. The art, for instance, could have changed - not just the same prints for all three. Just a few choice items would have helped.

Director Sylvia Knight had rehearsed the cast well and the delivery was impressive and slick. Despite my reservations, it was an enjoyable production - congratulations.