This was a brand new production for Beaufort Players, written by one of their own members, Alan Robinson. The story centres around married couple Mike and Karen, who arrive in a remote Scottish cottage to find it is not quite what they expected, and their guests are less than happy too. The author explains this is based on a place he stayed himself, and that the script has taken 10 years to reach the stage.
Taking the role of Mike, this was Thomas Cobb’s second appearance for Beaufort Players. As my last review of one of their productions was also his first stage appearance for them, it was nice to see him in a very different role. His performance was good and lines well delivered, though sometimes his emotion and reactions could be a little “bigger”, which is what stage acting tends to need.
Kate Martin as Mike’s fed up wife Karen was excellent. Her performance was equally bitchy and pleasant, and all her reactions were well acted. Her experience on stage was obvious and she was well-cast.
Author Alan Robinson took the role of Malcolm in his own production – not something he planned to do according to his programme note. His characterisation was excellent as a geeky/nerdy type and he performed really well.
The role of Malcolm’s girlfriend Miriam was delightfully portrayed by April Parker. If this was her first stage appearance she was excellent in delivering her lines and displaying all the emotions her character swings through.
Unpleasant drunkard James was played by Paul Taylor. His lines were well delivered and the first part of his performance very good. However, when he became drunk James, I found his drunk-act quite hard to handle. Playing a drunk is actually quite difficult and the way he performed it was not actually how a drunk would be.
Gemma Robinson was lovely as ditzy blonde Christina. She played the role really well, displaying a range of emotions and excellent characterisation.
A final nod to unseen actress Diana Dishley as the radio announcer – a nice little cameo.
The staging was good, with a well designed set that showed the rough and ready state of their Scottish location. The programme notes highlight how difficult it was to make the required snow, and the alternative was not quite as effective as it could have been, but it didn’t detract from the staging. There was only one point at which I got slightly confused when the scene required the door to be stuck with ice, and then a few minutes later another character successfully exited out of the same door, without clarification about how it could suddenly open. Maybe I missed something….?
I will specifically comment on the script / story, not something I usually need to do with established plays, but as this was a new play I feel it is appropriate. All the characters were very well written, and all had an established personality which came through on stage. However good an actor is, if the script is no good it is hard to make a role work, but that was not the case here. The story was interesting and entertaining, and reminded me of a Ray Cooney-type farce, with a handful of appropriately naughty lines, structural complication, characters leaping to assumptions, and talking at cross-purposes. Very British!
The music and lighting was kept suitably simple and thanks are due to the technical crews for getting the sound cues of howling wind and the radio announcer spot on.
My congratulations to Director Krystyna Kobiak, the cast, and all the crew and front of house staff on an entertaining evening.