Pack of Lies
Alex Wood | 06 Feb 2015 11:47am
Whilst I had certainly heard of this play I had not seen it and was looking forward to my visit to BCP.
I was not disappointed.
On the face of it this play – based on the true story of the Krogers, members of the notorious Portland spy ring in 1960s Britain – might have had its day. In fact it was previously staged by this company in 1989. But state power, conflicts about friendship and loyalty, as well as the ‘enemy within’ are still concerns in 2015 so the play still retains great appeal.
Bob and Barbara Jackson are respectable residents of Ruislip, in their neat house with their smart Sunday-cleaned car outside. Bob is the steadfast and compliant breadwinner, Barbara his homemaker wife. They have ambitions for their daughter Julie, popular, doing well at school and growing up fast. A happy family.
Helen and Peter Kroger live opposite. Peter is quiet but Helen is lively and sometimes perhaps a little too loud. Both are friends of the Jacksons – especially Julie and her mum who like them very much. Much is made of them being Canadian – not American (a lie) – and Helen is full of folksy stories and lessons she learnt when growing up on her family’s farm (another lie).
Mr Stewart is from MI5 and his appearance at the Jackson’s together with his polite but oh-so-insistent request that the Jacksons’ allow a police officer to observe the Krogers’ house is the catalyst for the reaction which sees the lives of the Jacksons (and, of course, the Krogers) change forever.
Barbara is uncomfortable with the arrangement from the start and Stewart has to feed in more information about his investigation as her sense of unease at the betrayal of her friend Helen grows. But this only makes her anxiety over her conflicting roles of friend, wife and law-abiding citizen grow.
The cast, director Terry Gallagher and his production team are to be commended on this smashing production. Andy Crump was just right as Bob – traditional post-war, reliable, honest and solid, very much aware of his responsibilities as father and husband, a little uncertain but in the end compliant to Stewart’s request. Julie Jackson was played very well with the right vim, verve and teen awkwardness by Scarlett Primrose.
Sarah Lonton was excellent as Helen, maintaining an American accent throughout and completely convincing us that she was a thoroughly decent, sweet and generous friend to the Jacksons. John McCormick as her quieter partner was, I thought, at times was portrayed as a little too reserved.
Stewart was played stylishly by Philip Fine – every inch what I imagine a 1960s MI5 man to be. Sharp, quietly in control and, just under the surface, threatening and potentially quite nasty!
Thelma and Sally, the police officers on surveillance duty, were played by Kate Groves – expressing the idea of ‘only doing my job’ very well – and Helen Watson.
Kate Fricke played Barbara, a demanding role which she carried off with considerable aplomb, becoming increasingly distressed as the play progresses. Excellent work.
The play is made up of a number of short scenes which were managed very well by stage crew and cast. I especially enjoyed the monologues, spread throughout the play, filling out the characters and their backgrounds and performed with confidence and skill.
The whole was showcased by a very fine 1960’s set, supported by very appropriate costumes from the period.
- : user
- : 04/02/2015