Friday, January 29, 2016


Theatre at Baddow
in the Parish Hall

Coward's timeless comedy was given an enjoyable revival at TAB, with the hall of the Cookham family home successfully recreated with nice art nouveau touches, and some gorgeous frocks for flappers and flirts, vamps and grandes dames.
True, the moves could have been a little more stylised, the vocal delivery a little more precious, but the beastly, bohemian Blisses and their weekend guests were well served by an octet of actors, ably supported by the domestic staff: Pauline Saddington's Clara and Joanna Lowe's brave Amy, setting breakfast and dancing the Charleston despite a raging toothache.
Barbara Llewellyn was an imposing presence as the matriarch Judith, Terry Cole her long-suffering husband. The young Blisses were given excellent performances by Vicky Wright and Tonio Ellis, camping up Love's Whirlwind, pointing their bons mots and playing up to Mother.
Outstanding in the queue for the Japanese Room was Diane Johnston's Myra Arundel – cloche hat, expressive eyes and enigmatic smile – who “uses sex as a sort of shrimping net”. Jim Crozier brought a quietly urbane charm to diplomatist Greatham; Donna Stevenson was the dim outsider Jackie, Kieran Lowe Judith's “perfect darling” Sandy.
Some of the best moments were the duologues – awkward small talk, playful seductions, desperate breakfasts. And the parlour games. “This room isn't big enough for that,” complained Simon. How right he was – avoiding the furniture a real challenge here. But in Sheila Talbot's sure-footed production the pace was good, the comedy sophisticated, and the artistic temperament carefully cultivated.

Miss Llewellyn's photograph by Nick Milenkovic
production photograph by Jacquie Newman

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