The 1930s play by W Somerset Maughm is set in a garden of a small English village. The stage is set with tables and chairs, pots of flowers and climbing roses to add to the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The birds start singing to indicate the start of the play, as they would commonly be heard in a village country garden.
The powerful play tackles family dynamics, relationships which on the surface appear to be stable and how our war veterans were treated after the end of the first world war. Which brings the play up to the modern day as our attitudes and understandings have changed very little on how war affects the mental health of servicemen.
The 12 actor cast were all superb and convincing in their roles. However, Samuel Burridge’s role as Sydney Ardsley stood out to me. This very talented sighted actor played the role of the blind war veteran, with what appeared to be natural ease. I sat questioning myself throughout the play as to whether he was acting or not. Right down to his eye movements were flickering and the way in which he used the walking stick. A very challenging role to play.
The director Alec Walters cast each part very well and the cast appeared to all enjoy the challenges their parts entailed. Which for all of them there were several.
Last nights performance held a talkback with the audience. It was interesting to hear the audiences opinion on some of the characters and how they felt watching them. Although I did not agree with some of them it opens your mind to others opinions. These sessions after a good play are very useful as the Director can discuss with the audience why he cast people in a certain way or how he/she saw the play from their perspective. Alec certainly did and was very clear when questioned by the audience.
This play leaves you questioning certain values in life and the way human beings treat each other in and out of intimate relationships. Please go and see it for yourself it is a very good evenings entertainment.
The Chesil Theatre compliments the play too as it is a small welcoming theatre where no member of the audience would have a restricted view. All the staff who work there are very friendly and nothing is too much trouble. There is also a bar available for refreshments.
Directed by Alec Walters.
Running from 15th to 22nd September 2018 at:
The Chesil Theatre, Chesil Street, Winchester, SO23 OHU.
There are still tickets to some performances left so please go and support the very talented local actors.