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Boundary Players - The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of Macbeth

21st to 25th October 2008. 

This was the NWN review.

Hatchet falls on Scottish play

Farndale Ladies do their best - or possibly worst - on Shakespeare

Boundary Players: Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Macbeth, at The William Penney Theatre, AWE Aldermaston, from Tuesday, October 21 to Saturday, October 25

Those intrepid members of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society are back in town, thanks to Boundary Players, and this time they have set their sights on Macbeth. David McGilliyray and Walter Zerlin Junior's hilarious creation have taken a theatrical hatchet to many plays over the years and not even Shakespeare has been spared.

In last week's Boundary production, director Mary Robinson and producer Paul Robinson made sure that the audience were in the mood for comedy from the start. Once we had filed past the Townswomen's Guild's own chutney stall (the mango was delicious, by the way) we were greeted with great gusto by Mrs Reece, the Guild President (a delightful performance from Alice Grundy), who plied us with raffle tickets.

Once on stage, the comedy continued. Steve Schollar really warmed to the part of Mr Peach, the long-suffering and frequently misnamed drama competition judge, who interacted cheerily with the audience and smiled encouragingly as the performance moved from one disastrous moment to the next.

Marc Wallace threw himself energetically into the part of stage manager Henry, forced to stand in as Lady Macbeth at the last moment. Michele Middleditch handled the part of Thelma (who "nearly trained at RADA") very confidently, but I would have liked to see the character's petulance and irritation build up a little more during the performance. Francesca Croft, Julie Abbott and Clare Humphreys, as Felicity, Dawn and Kate, carried off a wide range of parts in fine comic style; Jean Mead was well cast as the hapless Minnie; and Chris Nunn was suitably perplexed as Plummer, the director of the play within the play.

There were some great comic moments - the set constructed back to front so that the performers inadvertently played with their backs to the audience; Macbeth's dual daggers dancing around on the end of strings; the visions scene, with Henry dashing backwards and forwards as different characters; the witches' surprise musical interlude; and the wheelchair-bound performer with a dodgy wheel, who could only travel in circles.

The first act was lively and very enjoyable, but the second act did seem to lose pace at times. All-in-all, though, it was a tightly-produced show, well supported by strong backstage and front-of-house teams and performed in front of a very appreciative audience.