site search by freefind advanced

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

Newbury Dramatic Society and Box Theatre Company - One Night, Two Plays

9th to 12th February 2011.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

The choice it was that ailed

Who is the Master? One Night, Two Plays, at The Watermill, Bagnor, from Wednesday, February 9 to Saturday, February 12

Two local dramatic societies shared the Watermill stage last week with Newbury Dramatic Society performing Tom Stoppard's The Dog It Was That Died directed by Ann Davidson and The Box Theatre Company filling the second half with a translation by Neil Bartlett of Marivaux's comedy The Island of Slaves, under the direction of Duncan Mack.

It is difficult to find good short plays and NDS were brave to tackle the Tom Stoppard spoof spy story which has Purvis (Phil Campbell) so uptight about his complicated life as a double agent that he decides to end it. Leaving a suicide note, he leaps off a bridge, lands on a dog travelling on a barge and ends up in hospital. A variety of characters, each with their own eccentricities, try to discover who has been told what and by whom until finally a second note arrives - this time Purvis succeeded.

In spite of good acting and an easy flow of dialogue, it was difficult to decide why I felt the play was not coming alive. Then a programme note read in the interval revealed a clue in that this play was originally written for radio, where a variety of voices and/or accents would have more clearly defined the different characters. Perhaps that was the problem, but in my opinion the hard work put into this production would have been better served by a different choice of play.

The Box Theatre Company chose the story of a master, servant, mistress and maid who are shipwrecked on an island where the descendants of rebellious Greek slaves have a reputation for being extremely nasty.

In fact, when the exuberant Trivelin (the current inhabitants) catch up with the four all they insist on is that they change status and thus the arrogant Iphicrates and haughty Euphrosine (Jon Harding and Maria Bowler) reluctantly change places with valet Harlequin (Simon Fenton) and Cleanthis (Beth West giving a delightfully perky performance) in order to win the right to go home.

'Forgiveness' is the theme and the changeover is described to the four as 'humiliating but terribly good for you'. Each character established their role well and, as in the first play, the dialogue flowed easily, making this translation from the French entertaining and amusing.