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The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - Spring and Port Wine

11th to 12th June 2015

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

That's the way it was

Hungerford community theatre company revisit the 1960s

Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: Spring and Port Wine, at Herongate, Hungerford, on Thursday, June 11, and Friday, June 12

Bill Naughton's 1965 comedy is very much of its time, dealing with the careful distribution of money in the Crompton family as the father, Rafe, recalls the bitter poverty in the 1930s when he was a child.

Neil Padgen was completely believable as the strict father, collecting contributions from their sons' and daughters' wages and handing out housekeeping money to his wife Daisy, sensitively and accurately portrayed as a rather downtrodden housewife by Tessa Brown.

As the two sons Harold and Wilfred, Niall Madden Blain and George Wilson Evans had fun playing these rebellious and lively youngsters.

Rafe's daughter Hilda was played very well as a rather feisty young woman by Rouska Westall, whose facial expressions told us everything about her.

Florence Crompton is less of a personality staid and supportive of her tyrannical father, there isn't much for an actor to latch on to, but Hoffi Munt made the best of what little Naughton had given her. It was a well sustained performance throughout.

Florence's boyfriend, Arthur, was played by Shaun Blake, making the most of his outburst near the end. I once played this part myself in a distant amateur production for Boundary Players and found the lines familiar, even after more than 40 years.

Louise Nilsson had a good cameo part as nosy neighbour Betsy Jane.

The acting overall was very good and the pace, lighting, sound and costumes all well put together.

It was not a good idea, though, to have an actor reading the Newbury Homes section of the NWN; they didn't get that in Bolton, in 1965. Come to think of it, I don't think we had it in Newbury even back then.

Act 2 scene 1 is listed as Saturday on the programme but someone was reading The News of The World!

And a real cat rather than the soft toy used would have been better, surely? Did nobody have a quiet, controllable moggy? We did, way back when.

These were minor but distracting items although the cast and crew can feel pleased with a very good all-round performance.