The Mill at Sonning
0118 969 8000
Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY.
Ten Times Table, 2nd August to 22nd September
Long due a revival, Ten Times Table is a play so funny that it displays playwright Alan Ayckbourn at the top of his game. Alan is a genius at analysing ordinary people in everyday situations. We follow the planning and disastrous outcome of a group of members of The Pendon community as they plan their small town's first pageant. The pageant is to be based on a long lost piece of local history - The Massacre of the Pendon Twelve - where the Earl of Dorset crushed an uprising of rebellious workers. As the meetings in the run down Swan Hotel progress, we see a natural divison between right-wing supporters of the patronising middle-class Helen, versus the bolshie left-wing teacher Tim and his two adoring female groupies. All have very different views of what the pageant should be and what it represents. Battle commences. The day of the pageant arrives. And what was a mock-up of the event now becomes the real thing as both sides clash with hilarious and riotous results!
A Night in Provence, 27th September to 17th November
By Robin Hawdon. Ah Provence! Ah The French Riviera! Where optimistic holidaymakers rent luxury villas for exhorbitant sums in order to get their annual fix of sun, sea, and haute cuisine. However, imagine the crisis if one such sumptuous place was double booked. Worse - imagine it triple booked! By a French couple - Maurice and Yvette; an English couple - Fred and Judy; and begorrah, an Irish couple - Shaun and Moira. Marriages have floundered on less. Add the ingredients of copious amounts of sparkling champagne, heightened sexual attractions, to say nothing of deep-seated cultural differences, all this makes the current Brexit negotiations seem a snip!
Guys and Dolls, 23rd November to 23rd February
A timeless New York Tale of gamblers, petty crooks, nightclub singers, as well as strait-laced missionaries, will delight and beguile you. Sky Masterson is the cool doyen of gamblers. His friend, the not quite down and out Nathan Detroit, makes a bet with him that he can’t get the pious and beautiful mission-doll, Sarah Brown, to go on a date with him to disreputable Havana. The Dice are rolled as these colourful characters pursue love and luck from the heart of Times Square to the sizzling clubs of Cuba. Will Lady Luck be on their side?
Gaslight, 28th February to 13th April
Bella Manningham is convinced that she's losing her mind just as her mother did before her. And, like her Mother, she is terrified that she will end up in an asylum. She is haunted by the memory of an aunt violently murdered and sees ghostly apparitions; she hears floorboards creaking overhead; familiar objects disappear and then inexplicably reappear. While her handsome, domineering husband - Jack - is out in the evening the gaslight eerily dims and flickers. Does the terror exist in her imagination or are dark secrets living in her home? The surprise arrival of Rough, a retired detective leads to a shocking discovery that will shake her respectable Victorian marriage to its core.
Review of Ten Times Table
2nd August to 22nd September 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Let battle commence
Ayckbourn's committee from hell clash at Sonning
Ten Times Table, at The Mill at Sonning, until Saturday, September 22
After considerable success and with 20 plays under his belt, Alan Ayckbourn was waiting to move into the new Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
He had no new play, but amused himself by attending the many committee meetings being held to approve and finance his grand new theatre. After watching the antics and arguments of the committee members and making several notes, he sat down over the Christmas period in 1976 and wrote Ten Times Table about a committee trying to organise a local historical pageant.
The new play opened in January 1977 in Yorkshire and transferred to London in 1978. It has few real jokes, but the comedy comes from the way ordinary people use their words to make their often unintentionally hilarious points.
If Harold Pinter was the master of dramatic and modern dialogue and the use of natural cliché, Ayckbourn is surely the comedy equivalent.
Set in the Swan Hotel Ballroom, the 10 organising committee members were due to sit around the long table, although a few of them never actually turned up.
Stuart Fox played Ray, the chairman constantly trying to control the meetings and never quite succeeding, in a well-realised character study.
Antony Eden as schoolteacher and Marxist Eric, was constantly in battle with chairman's wife Helen – a strong performance by Louise Jameson as a true blue, bombastic woman who sees 'Reds' everywhere and decides to oppose Eric.
Nick Waring played Tim, a quiet man until fired up by Helen, when he becomes the aggressive, belligerent Captain Barton.
Ben Porter and Ian Targett added to the complex characters around the table and Elizabeth Power had fun with the aged Audrey, who was not quite as silly as she appeared.
Rhiannon Handy did very well portraying quiet-as-a-mouse Philippa, a young woman sitting quietly in the background saying and doing very little – a difficult characterisation to pull off, but pull it off this production did.
Sarah Lawrie played Sophie, who is impressed by Nick, and James Dance had a small but effective part dressed as a soldier.
Always a popular play in the Ayckbourn collection, this production moved along smoothly – until the frantic scenes towards the end, when carefully orchestrated chaos ensued.
Robin Herford's direction was clear and precise, with only the occasional staged feature.
It all moved along at a good, natural pace, with the dialogue providing comedy throughout.
Michael Holt's set design was functional enough and typical of a suburban hotel ballroom.
There is a review from the Maidenhead Advertiser ("each [character] is perfectly realised with expert comic timing by the strong cast... often hilarious, never less than witty and with some standout comic moments").
For more details
see the Mill's web site at www.millatsonning.com.
Reviews in the Archive
The Unexpected Guest (June 2018)
Move Over, Mrs Markham (April 2018)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (February 2018)
My Fair Lady (November 2017)
Perfect Wedding (September 2017)
Spider's Web (July 2017)
Improbable Fiction (March 2017)
Dead Simple (January 2017)
High Society (November 2016)
The Hollow (July 2016)
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (March 2016)
The Perfect Murder (January 2016)
Stepping Out (November 2015)
Round and Round the Garden (October 2015)
Love, Loss, and What I Wore (August 2015)
Killjoy (May 2015)
Educating Rita (January 2015)
Last Confessions of a Scallywag (July 2014)