Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ingatestone and Fryerning Dramatic Club

For authenticity's sake, I arrived by rail. Ingatestone Station, Grade II listed, is every bit as interesting as the fictional Fal Vale Junction, though its waiting room is less palatial.
Mel Hastings' delightful production boasted several impressive period characterizations: Ben Salmon's Charlie Murdock, Duncan Hopgood's rustic stationmaster, Emma Moriaty's troubled Julia, wearing the loveliest frock amongst some excellent costumes. Boorish “caveman” Winthrop was well sustained by Gary Catlin, with Chrissie Mallett equally good as the wife he's about to leave.
Nick Lupton, as silly-ass-in-spats Teddie Deakin was a constant delight, every chortle, every utterance, every move absolutely in character, though as the last few minutes reveal, not as asinine as he appears … And Pam Hemming was magnificent as Miss Bourne, the formidable maiden lady who's unused to brandy. I treasure the meal she made of the word “linoleum”.
Sound, light and special effects all conspired to make a stylish production, though polythene in the windows did not seem an ideal solution.
Arnold Ridley's remote, underused Cornish halt, immortalized on stage in the early 20s, seems to have survived the Beeching Axe and the demise of Bradshaw; Ingatestone's enjoyable revival reminds us why it's still scheduled by theatre companies of all kinds.

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