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Silchester Players - The House by the Lake

16th to 17th and 23rd to 24th October 2009.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Killing time at Silchester

Silchester Players: The House by the Lake, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, October 16, Saturday, October 17, Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24

The House by the Lake is an old-fashioned countryhouse thriller by Hugo Mills.

Maurice Holt is a discredited psychiatrist who, thanks to the callousness and dubious business activities of his half-brother Colin, has been left living in desperate circumstances with his sister Stella and his emotionally unbalanced wife, Janet.

Maurice and Stella plot to do away with Colin one evening, inviting him to dinner when the rest of the family are out of the house, but things don't quite go according to plan. Moreover, the conspirators are unaware that Colin's abused wife Iris has her own plans for Colin's demise. The tension mounts as the unwitting Janet gets drawn into events.

Silchester Players seemed at home with the twists and turns of Mills' plot, and their well-staged production, directed by Roy Glancey and produced by John Coffin, displayed confidence and style. The action does take a while to get going in this play, and the first act was a little slow with a few prompts. The pace really picked up in the second act, though, as the characters began to develop.

Alan Moorhouse gave a strong performance as Maurice, his demeanour and expressions nicely reflecting the characters transition from control to anxiety to menace. Alan was well-matched with Jill Hutchins as Janet, particularly in the hypnosis scenes towards the end.

I was also very impressed with Stacey Warner, as Colin's wife Iris, a performance that showed considerable emotional depth. Mandy Larby gave a good, if slightly underpowered, performance as Stella, and there were confident cameos from Lyn Davies as Irish housekeeper Brenda and Jo Sanderson as the defiant Nurse Thomson.

Clive Solomons pieced together the clues as the mysterious detective Mr Howard, Keith Graham was impressively brusque as family friend Colonel Forbes, while Tony Olivers arrogant Colin seemed blissfully unaware that just about every character on stage had a motive to kill him.

A good, well-managed production, accompanied by the players usual warm welcome.