Paul Johnson | 26 Mar 2013 00:10am
This play is a four-hander which takes a cynical look at life during Margaret Thatcher’s years as Prime Minister. Billed as a comedy, Michael Frayn’s play is also a political drama making some harsh observations along the way as it explores a myriad of issues such as compromise, idealism and attitudes to change. Written in 1984, Benefactors is set against the backdrop of 1960s new housing projects. It focusses on two married couples, David Kitzinger, an idealistic architect and his supportive wife Jane who have a happy relationship and the bitter and cynical journalist Colin Molyneux and his subservient wife Sheila who in contrast are struggling. The play looks at the relationships between the four adults and David’s attempt to build new homes to replace the slum housing of Basuto Road. However, David is gradually forced by circumstances into building skyscrapers. David becomes closer to Sheila, who becomes his secretary, but it is unclear if she is helping him or the other way around. Michael Frayn’s characters are well drawn and dialogue sharp. Under the inspired direction of Andrew Rogers this production, by Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society, is set in the round allowing for the characters to have a strong and direct engagement with the audience. It worked well. The cast all gave outstanding performances. In particular Roz Gerrie carried off the part of Sheila perfectly, moving from downtrodden and silent wife to one who takes control of her life. The moments when she is browbeaten by her husband were quite moving. Jon Gilbert as her controlling husband gave a measured performance throughout as the devious and sardonic Colin. A destructive force he humiliates his wife and determines to destroy David’s dream, revelling in his downfall. Sophie Robertson’s Jane was utterly convincing as the super-efficient, supportive, domestic goddess wife in Act one. She conveyed the shift in position well especially during the emotional argument in the second act as we see her role change. Tom Donoghue as the genial and well-intentioned David did the part full justice. Director Andrew Rogers ensures that the pace is maintained with effective narration and making sure the characters were constantly on the move. Staging this play in the round worked extremely well and drew the audience into the action. The actors were always visible and the audience connection deep as a result. Congratulations to the cast who were superb. This was a very funny, yet thought provoking play and I loved the staging of this. Well done all.
- : admin
- : 16/03/2013