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The Mill at Sonning - A Night in Provence

27th September to 17th November 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Hilarious feelgood comedy of manners

A Night in Provence, at The Mill at Sonning, until November 17

Improbable situations make the best plots for comedies, so try this one for size.

A couple from East London rent a holiday villa in France to share with their friends, an Irish couple. No sooner do the London couple get through the front door when they are confronted with a French couple, owners of the villa, arriving for their holiday with no knowledge of the British pair. Then the Irish couple turn up and after some cursing, swearing and general argument, the three couples agree to share the villa for the next two weeks.

Well, alright, but I did say it was an improbable situation.

The play dates from 2007 when it was first produced at The Mill, but this version has been tweaked by Robin Hawdon and brought up-to-date with jokes about Brexit already. "You can leave in a civilised way, like Brexit," says Maurice, the Frenchman. "Well, alright, not like Brexit."

The London couple arrive looking for sun, sea and bonking – according to Mark Pearce as Fred – and not necessarily in that order. Pearce's performance was bright and bubbly as a husband who seldom seems to get what he wants.

Amber Edlin as Judy was very good, her expressions and studied cockney accent extremely well done. Dan March had some fine comic moments as Shaun, which he played up to full effect and Janine Leigh was his lively wife, cheeky and full of fun. Adrian Irvine and Laila Ali as the French couple did well with accents that sounded genuine and, at the beginning of the first act, some French dialogue.

Apart from a couple of instances when actors addressed colleagues with the wrong names, this was a flawless first night performance.

So plenty of laughter, some jokey digs at Britain's present parlous situation, skinny-dipping in the pool, with couples changing partners for this little game and a bit of adultery on the side between Shaun and his friend Fred's wife, no less. What's not to laugh about?

All good fun, very well acted and directed with flair by Keith Myers – and a very good French villa set design. The latter was acknowledged at curtain call when actor March stepped forward to praise designer Terry Parsons for both his set and 50 years 'in the business' and The Mill's artistic director Sally Hughes presented him with a tasty looking '50th' cake.


There are reviews from The Stage ("a frothy, amusing tale to send you out of the theatre feeling good... the casting is nothing short of brilliant"), the Maidenhead Advertiser ("a fast-paced romp that is never less than very funny, sometimes a little bittersweet and boasts some genuine laugh-out-loud moments of comic genius and timing... another surefire hit from the Mill at Sonning") and Wokingham Today ("6 talented actors clearly having a fantastic time... a fun evening out").