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Silchester Players - Stepping Out

9th to 10th May and 16th to 17th May 2014.

Review from the Newbuiry Weekly News.

Stepping up to step out

Silchester Players: Stepping Out, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, May 9, Saturday May 10, Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17

Stepping Out by Richard Harris follows the members of a tap dance class as they come together for an hour each week to escape the trials and tribulations of their home lives. The play has quite a slender central plot, and it's the interaction between the characters and what we gradually learn about them as the class progresses that provides the real humour and pathos.

The Silchester production was well cast, and the players quickly settled into their characters. There were, sadly, one or two awkward pauses and a few loose lines owing to first night nerves, but these problems were soon overcome with some strong performances.

Claire Humphreys, as teacher Mavis, took command of the class from the start and really shone in this role. She was well-supported by Rebecca Brookes as her grumpy but perceptive accompanist, Mrs Fraser. Dorothy, played by Amanda Albrecht, was delightfully dotty as she battled to get the steps right; Lena Young was convincing as nurse Lynne; while Caroline Martin was just right as Vera, the compulsive busy-body who "likes to do things properly". Natalie Edgson (Maxine), Mandy Larby (Sylvia) and Jill Gillett (Rose) provided well-timed light relief throughout the classes, their cheery but sometimes tactless exchanges ranging in topic from leotards to reluctant husbands.

There were some touching scenes between the serious and intense Andy (Sarah Oliver), the victim of an abusive relationship, and the timid and slightly mysterious Geoffrey, a nicely understated portrayal by Brian Gillott. You could almost feel Andy's frustration as Geoffrey shied away from her subtle approaches, and it was a shame that the play didn't develop this relationship further.

You can sense from the start of the performance that our hapless beginners will emerge as accomplished dancers by the end, and the Players didn't let us down. In the final scene, which takes place a year later, the performers delivered a slick and polished tap routine which even included the pianist Mrs Fraser, and choreographer Katie Hawkins had clearly done wonders to bring the cast up to this standard.

Congratulations to director Keith Graham and his team for a very enjoyable evening.