Reviewed by Sally Putnam
Breath of Spring by Peter Coke is a gentle English comedy set in the 1950’s when stockings had seams and having a maid servant was not uncommon amongst the upper classes.
Dame Beatrice played by Julia Whittle, lets out her rooms to gentlefolk who like her have fallen on hard times. The group is drawn together by the action of Lily the maid (Anna Bampton) who steals a mink wrap, known as the Breath of Spring for her mistress as a mark of her appreciation for kindness in giving her a job. The justification for taking the mink was nicely acted. However, returning the mink to its owner whilst protecting Lily from being whisked off to Holloway becomes the goal of the group under the military guidance of Brigadier Bertie played by Geoff Hastwell.
All the actors have developed recognisable characters with consistently strong physical and verbal antics. Sue Wylie as Nan the voice coach had some good comic mannerisms and a great snorting laugh as well as a liking for a drink when it’s on offer. Her skill with accents was used well and I enjoyed her performance. Geoff Hastwell had a believable military stance and his turns would do justice to a parade ground. Lady Alice, Megan Dansie played the flutterery widow with her eye on the Major as a potential third husband but has tough opposition from Dame Beatrice. And Patricia Vice was believable as the nervous spinster addicted to nerve tonic.
Director John Graham used the Arts Theatre stage well, the cast made the most of this slight comedy and the result was an entertaining and pleasant evening at the theatre.