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Boundary Players - Vintage Hitchcock

15th to 18th November 2017

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Hitchcock on the airwaves

Boundary Players: Vintage Hitchcock, a live radio show, at the William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston, from Wednesday, November 15, to Saturday, November 18

Well, it was something a little different to the usual stage play. Author Joe Landry came up with the idea of a presentation of a radio show, from New York City, vintage late-1940s, which presented scaled-down versions of old Alfred Hitchcock movies. Originally comprising The Lady Vanishes, Sabotage and The 39 Steps, Boundary Players were wise to drop the first and stick to two films or a two-hour programme would have stretched to about three-and-a-half. Beginning with a neatly-truncated version of Sabotage, the players, directed by Ann Bieloch, gave a finely-tuned performance of the piece, with the actors doubling up parts and Alice Grundy and Pat Archer brightly providing commercial jingles and sound effects.

Andrew Smith did well as the Announcer, giving details of the play to be performed and spouting the commercials, and then, rushing over to a microphone to play one of the parts. Gavin Crow, Rachel Silk and Jamie Craker, along with Richard Mier, all played three or four characters in the play, maintaining the various accents required of an American-speaking radio station, presenting plays set in London and Scotland. There was a good performance of Sabotage, but The 39 Steps was even better. Jamie Craker managed a Russian spy accent. Gavin Crow did his Scottish voice bit and Andrew Smith rushed around as the announcer and Richard Hannay in the play within a play Rachel Silk had fun with the part of Pamela in this one.

The sound effects team were enjoying themselves with bells, telephone ringing, doors slamming and even gunshots, as the actors stood passively by their microphones and read their lines. A bonus indeed to any actor who finds learning lines a tittle difficult. It was a nice touch also to include the haunting music from the movie Psycho at one point.

Ann Bieloch's direction ensured a well-paced production, with strong acting, well-timed noises off and appropriate music. It just shows that something a little bit different can provide a strong, dramatic tonic.