site search by freefind advanced

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

Newbury Dramatic Society - Entertaining Angels

8th to 10th November 2012.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Gritty drama from NDS

Newbury Dramatic Society: Entertaining Angels, at ACE Space, from Thursday, November 8 to Saturday, November 10

Time was when drama groups searched diligently for plays that did not have three or four men to every woman as the ratio of members was usually the opposite. NDS found this gritty and fascinating little play with four female and one male character and gave a strong performance at ACE Space.

It is partly a comedy, with some very funny lines, but the main thrust is the human frailty plot which concerns a recently deceased vicar who, unknown to his wife, was seduced by her sister 30 years ago and fathered a son. Well - we all have our human frailties, even vicars, and just to emphasise the point, author Richard Everett's plot brings a female vicar to take over the vicarage, who is questioning her faith after having become pregnant to a workman, lost the baby and failed to inform her husband.

So far so bad, but there is even worse to come as the sins of the sister are explored in excruciating detail by Grace, the dead vicar's widow, who can't forgive either her deceased husband or her sister. Mind you, the line about "why do men make such a mess of things and leave us to clear up" did not ring very true considering the off-stage female activity, but maybe the author was making a point that did not coincide with his plot.

The acting and staging generally was very good. Jo Snowdon as Grace was witty, troubled, bitter, sarcastic, vulnerable and managed to convey all that and more. Maureen Prince, as sister Ruth, underplayed to some extent, which contrasted neatly with Jo Snowdon's bitter, deceived woman. Daughter Jo was the least interesting part, played crisply by Emily Rose, and Sarah, the somewhat 'adventurous' vicar was extremely well portrayed by Suzanne Hudson, showing several sides to this complex character. Roger Burdett was the ghost of Grace's husband, walking into her mind after death but visible only to us, the audience. He did it very well.

The set was basic, but more than adequate, lighting and sound effects spot-on. Director Ian Martin must be congratulated for good stage movement and characterisations.

One actor had rather too many prompts for a first night performance but she knows who she is, rehearsal time was short I'm told and it was probably rectified at the next performance. An unusual, sometimes disturbing but always fascinating production.