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Compton Players - Bracken Moor

9th to 12th November 2016.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Practically perfect players

Compton Players, Bracken Moor at Compton Village Hall, from Wednesday, November 9 to Saturday, November 12

Set in a rambling old house in Yorkshire in the late 1930s, Bracken Moor is a strange play. Part-social commentary but mainly spooky ghost story, it seems unable to make up its mind what it is exactly, but that is the fault of author Alexi Kaye Campbell and not the actors and director of Compton Players, who gave a splendid performance of the piece.

Moving across stage on a well-designed set, with dark, funereal wallpaper, Paul Shave was strong and impressive as the greedy colliery owner Pritchard, who values technological improvements above his workers and is happy to sacrifice 140 jobs.

Equally fine was the performance of Tracey Pearce as his grief stricken wife, still suffering daily, 10 years after the death of her young son who fell into a disused mine shaft.

Another powerful performance came from George Buckland, the young friend of the Pritchards' son, who appears to have been haunted into believing he is possessed by the spirit of his dead pal. He arrives with his father and mother, the Averys, friends of the Pritchards played steadily by Dave Hawkins and Jasmine Mullany and soon has Mrs Pritchard believing he is speaking directly for her dead son.

But he antagonises Mr Pritchard, who conveys with his expressions and stillness on stage, all the animosity he feels towards the young man. Tracey Pearce also manages to indicate her grief and hope by her studied looks and static positioning on stage when necessary.

Eric Saxton was completely believable as the country doctor, called out in the middle of the night to attend the hysterical, seemingly-possessed young man. His long speech about the unexplained and unexplainable, though, seemed unlikely considering he should have gone upstairs first to attend to his ailing patient. Once again, this was the play and no reflection on some really good acting all round by the Comptons.

There was good support, too, from Lauren Eeley as the maid and Ian Hickling as a local man trying unsuccessfully to save the miners' jobs. Towards the end of this fascinating piece of theatre, Buckland says to Pritchard "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophyā€¯, but, of course, Shakespeare's Hamlet got there first with that one almost 500 years ago.

Top marks though to the Compton Players for a near faultless production.