site search by freefind advanced

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

Boundary Players - The Maintenance Man

19th to 23rd October 2010.

This was the NWN review.

DIY. Divorce. Can Bob fix it?

Boundary Players: The Maintenance Man, at William Penney theatre, from Tuesday, October 19 to Saturday, October 23

How many times have you had a go at making shelves from scratch, checked and double checked the measurements, only to find that a critical component just doesn't fit?

This was the experience of hapless DIY enthusiast Bob, whose lack of success with shelf-making also extended to his stormy relationships. It was easy for the audience to empathise with Bob at the opening of the Boundary Players' performance of The Maintenance Man by Richard Harris, and as the character developed, we shared the frustration of the breakdown of his marriage and the decay of his subsequent affair.

The problems start when unhappily-married Bob meets divorcee Diana at a party. Hypochondriac Bob has a longing to be needed by those around him and, although he can't live with wife Chris, he still wants to be part of her life, so he continues to do DIY around the house even after their divorce.

Diana soon grows to resent the fact that he is always seeing his children and ex-wife and realises that, although she loves him, they will never be truly happy.

Despite this thin storyline, the strength of the play lies in the wry humour of the script and the development of the respective relationship, supported by flashbacks and thought tracks as Bob shares his concerns with the audience.

Steve Schollar gave an impressive performance as Bob, as the character struggled increasingly hard to keep everyone happy, including a demanding mother whom he updates by phone.

The part of Chris was well-portrayed by Claire Humphreys, who transformed the character confidently from a dowdy housewife to a relaxed and confident woman as the play developed. Pat Archer's Diana was dignified and composed, and it was easy to share her frustration as Bob failed to make a firm commitment.

The script of this three-character drama was very demanding and, although some of the subtle humour was lost during the numerous angry exchanges, all the performers coped admirably with the wordy dialogue.

Director Michele Middleditch should be pleased with the result, while Paul and Mary Robinson's set was simple, but very well designed - combining two sitting rooms in one - and was used to very good effect.