Review by Fran Edwards
Set in Thatcher’s England with its financial difficulties and unemployment, this seems to be a relevant theme for now. But England in the 80’s is a world away from us, despite the obvious similarities.
Written by Stanley Price, this gentle comedy is quintessentially British, John Bailey’s ‘stiff upper lip’ and stoic behaviour stamp his origins.
David Rapkin played John Bailey with quiet understanding, dealing with the comic aspects well but losing a little in the pathos area. His competent, business woman wife was portrayed by Joanne St Clair, delivering the role sympathetically, but with strength.
The next door neighbours, the Hollis’, are played by Vicky Horwood (Gwen) and Peter Smith (Arthur) who provide the perfect foils. Gwen is a lost and needy housewife, bored and looking for excitement and Horwood captures that well. The ever reliable Mr Smith is the obnoxious husband that gave her something to escape.
Sean Flieri as Tom, the son, has his moments, with good characterisation but occasional poor delivery. Without doubt the scene stealer is Isabella Norton as Mary Ferguson, the mother-in-law in the flat next door! She was just as vulnerable and irritating as she needed to be!
Again St Jude’s manages to fit a set which should require more space onto their limited stage and it looks good, thanks to the design of Normajean Ohlsson and the construction team.
Direction by Kym Clayton was sensitive, although on opening night some areas needed a little more pace to keep things flowing. An enjoyable production, but without the belly laughs.