Welcome back – players tackle Alan bennett's take on life with gusto
A Trio of One Act Plays
by Alan Bennett
The Castle Players
IF you’re a fan of Alan Bennett, you’d have loved the Castle Players’ first production in almost two years – a triple bill of one-act plays, originally written in the 1970s and early 80s for television.
The trio – Green Forms, A Visit from Miss Prothero and Say Something Happened – were a strange choice.
These are not timeless pieces that get better with age, they are like aspic, something that would have been better left in the last millennium.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the performances by the Players, who did their best with dated material. The highlight of the evening came in the first act with Green Forms, directed by Adele Tyler, where office workers in a huge corporation – Doris and Doreen – pass their days in office chat not knowing that their cosy little set-up is about to change.
Sarah Fells’ portrayal of spinster Doris was perfectly nuanced right down to the careful raising of an eyebrow at some of the utterances by her married, but junior, co-worker Doreen, played by Janie Caldbeck.
Ms Fells embraced the character pulling the audience back to the not-so-halcyon days where computerisation and rising inflation all loomed ominously.
Ben Pearson, as Frank Lomax, the ex-military war veteran turned trade union rabble rouser, hit the mark with the character, parading to and fro across the stage during the repetitive monologue which I’m afraid I was as receptive to as Mr Boswell, played by Scott Edwards, who looked on throughout with bored contempt.
Set designers should also be praised for their detailed recreation of a 1970s office, complete with Formica topped tea table, battered venetian blinds and a vintage edition of the Teesdale Mercury.
In A Visit from Miss Prothero, directed by Phil Sculthorpe, Bunny Forsyth was on form as the title character.
Like a succubus, she drained the contented retired life from widower Mr Dodsworth, played by Peter Firby, during her unannounced and unwanted visit, only leaving – with a smile on her face – when he was as miserable as she.
In the evening’s finale, the Players explored family relationships in Say Something Happened, directed by Keith Irons, with elderly couple Mam and Dad, played by Heather Armstrong and Mike Steinbock, receiving a visit from trainee social worker Libby Harding.
It was good to see the Players back on in action, on stage at The Witham after such a long, enforced time away, and I look forward to their next offering which hopefully will be a little more uplifting to spirit us away from the monotony of every-day life.