Friday, May 09, 2008


LADS at the Tractor Shed Latchingdon


original West End production starring Sybil Thorndike, Edith Evans and Wendy Hiller photo: Picture Post

The stalls glittering with evening dress, an all-star cast, a solid set and a well-made play. That's the world of 1950s theatre in which N C Hunter's great hit was conceived.

Out at the tractor shed, it was the set that came closest to the original – the hotel drawing room looked just like one of those photos you used to see in the acting editions. And there was an impressive scene change – twice – to the wintry garden. The pace was generally good, prompt permitting, and there were some effective groupings – the top of Act III, for instance.

Peter Jones's actors, following in the footsteps of Edith Evans and Penelope Keith, had mixed fortunes. Gill Bridle was excellent as Mrs White, combining a domineering manner, perfect diction and real pathos. The Austrian refugee, saddest of the resident dispossessed, was nicely portrayed by Robin Warnes, and Anita Collings had her moments as the slightly vulgar Mrs Ashworth.

The orphans from the storm who disturb the communal life of the hotel were an unlikely family, led by Pam Burton as the insensitive, flirtatious, worldly Helen Lancaster, playing with the hopes and fears of the sad emigré and the invalid Adonis [Daniel Beaver], encouraging them to dream of the waters of the moon.

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