New Era - When We Are Married
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New Era - When We Are Married

13th to 15th and 18th to 22nd September 2012.

Here is the NWN review.

Character portrayal at heart of success

New Era Players: When We Are Married, at the New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Thursday, September 13 to Saturday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 18 to Saturday, September 22

From the moment the curtain opened to reveal a set that would flatter even a professional company with an early 1900s living room supplied by Newbury Reclaim, the full house at the New Era theatre knew that this production of JB Priestley's When We Are Married was in good hands.

The play, a farcical comedy centres on three couples who are coming together in the small town of Cleckewyke in Yorkshire, supposedly celebrating their 25th wedding anniversaries. The couples are all steeped in upper-middle-class values and believe that their 25 years commitment to the 'institution' of marriage, makes them out to be quite the good sort of people.

It is no surprise then, that the new church organist, an altogether more lively and forward thinking young man from London called Gerald Forbes, should be to their distaste - especially when he has been caught engaging intimately with the niece of one of the couples and that the men intend to hastily make it known that he is not welcome in their community. However, when they try to do so, Gerald reveals a surprising fact that rocks their sensibilities and leads to a hilarious trail of cover-up attempts and unexpected confessions - that the pastor who married them was a sham and so none of them are actually married.

Strong performances were abundant in this production, but it was the collective nature and the clear commitment towards character development and rehearsal that made this stand out. The audience could track the minute changes in each character's journey by the sheer dedication to each part that the actors had. Whether it was the building excitement of Philippa Jefferies' maid at the escalating destruction, the ever-increasing drunkenness of Frank Brown's photographer, or the exceptionally played out power struggle between the Soppitts (played by Roger Fellows and Janet Bennett) the ability to get to the heart of each character was precisely what made the parody so successful and so funny.

This was a well directed piece, with every opportunity to find a good joke in the script exploited cleverly and will surely be one of many enjoyable nights for the patrons of this group on their way to completing the recently-approved theatre extension, which will surely only serve to extend New Era's reputation to the large audiences that they thoroughly deserve.

DAN MORTON