Nov 2, 2020
BOVINGDON PLAYERS “BY WAY OF MURDER” Writer & Director: Mark Waghorn Bovingdon Memorial Hall 21st – 24th March 2012
A new play, written by Mark Waghorn, which had a good story, and was well-acted in the main. The set was excellent, very well-constructed – the only thing I would have changed was the setting of the sofa, which seemed too central. I liked Jean Fiori’s portrayal of Lady Sarah, she got lots of emotion and characterisation in to her part, which was very true to life. Barbara Bonney was a very dour Scottish housekeeper, and I enjoyed her performance. She has a very mobile face and gave us some very good facial expressions which were often more telling than the words! Robert Peacock and Imogen Roberts as the scheming couple, Jack and Janie Summers, created a good pairing and both got a good contrast to the slightly softer Lady Sarah. Robert got the changes to his character well, from the almost subservient half-brother to the scheming money-grabbing, or rather tiara-grabbing, person. I liked the sharpness Imogen gave to her portrayal – again a good portrayal, and lovely costumes – very suitable to who she was supposed to. The story was intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns as a good thriller should have, but there were too many long silences whilst characters poured drinks, etc – the action needed to be moved on and covered by dialogue, as it detracted from the flow of the action. Dialogue pace was mostly good throughout from the cast. Iain King was the commanding Detective Superintendent Beveridge – a good part for him, which he attacked well, and added pace and interest – also some play on his surname by the housekeeper at one stage – which created another amusing moment.
Michael Swietochowski was Detective Inspector Frank Curtis, who seemed to have another life which was hinted at occasionally, and turned out to be Janie’s lover, and the two of them were plotting behind Jack’s back to outdo him and steal the tiara themselves, and make a new life in South America. Ben Hooker gave us a different character as Bob from Wigan – supposedly the bodyguard for the family – but who got shot early on. I liked the accent! The shootings were very contrived, but at least there was no chance that anyone would miss the shots, and gave us due warning so that we didn’t jump out of our skins. The appearance of the very tall Jonathan Anthony was a chilling end to the scene! Laura Moore was very much the bright young thing, as Lynne Cramer, also after the tiara. I thought she ‘died’ very well, her being strangled, and the subsequent rather bungled disposal of the body was very funny, and the part where she was laid on the sofa and wrapped in the throw was also highly amusing.
So all in all a good play, acted well, with nice set and costumes – I enjoyed it very much, but found I had to keep my wits about me to avoid getting lost with the twists and turns of the plot, which was good.
Oct 21, 2020
BOVINGDON PLAYERS “HANGMEN” Bovingdon Memorial Hall
Director: John Mower 29th November 2019
Excellent, impactful opening – followed by a well-directed and acted piece. A dark comedy, but one which had some very funny lines, delivered with veritas by the cast.
Technically very good, the hangings were conducted with stark reality, which suited the play, and which meant we were engaged with the underlying harshness of the script. I can appreciate the excellent timings needed from the backstage crew to make everything seem real – very well done.
The fact that real people’s names were used and referred to, made this play all the more fascinating, particularly as I can remember when hanging was abolished, and all the controversy that followed. Albert Pierrepont was the most famous hangman, and whilst Harry Wade appears to have been a figment of Martin McDonagh’s imagination, he came across as a very real character, with the competition between the two a central fact!
The set worked really well, the pub had good props and allowed good entrances and exits for the cast.
I liked the lighting and the projections that accompanied the narrative – particularly good was the opening scene – with the spotlights on down stage right, and again the two spots on a later scene, all very imaginative. I liked the music too, and thought The Hanging Tree very appropriate. There were a couple of blackouts required for scene changes, which I would have liked to have had a musical background for, just to keep the audience in the atmosphere.
Costumes were all very suitable, and I loved the fact that when the men came into the pub when it was raining their macs/jackets/umbrellas were actually wet and dripping, a nod to reality which Bovingdon Players are so good at.
A large cast, with no weak links, everyone stepped up to their character and made this for me, an outstanding example of the play.
The cafe scene between Syd and Mooney was very well-played, giving us an insight to what might (or might not) have happened.
Andy Mills as the central character Harry Wade, the hangman and second only to Pierrepont, gave us a well-rounded character, showing his contrasting sides when dealing with prisoners and his family. A consummate performance.
Katy Ratcliffe is an excellent actress, and in fulfilling the role of Alice, Harry’s wife, gave us a woman torn between a sort of pride in her husband’s profession, and the needs of the family. A good relationship between Harry and Alice showing the strains of marriage and parenthood.
Tessa Milligan played the part of Shirley very well, getting the naivety and shyness of the teenage girl, whilst also showing her spirit in becoming a ‘victim’ of the machinations of Mooney.
I liked the four regulars in the pub, all differing characters but very realistic, all holding their portrayals throughout. Well done to Ben Hooker (Bill), Andrew Jamieson (Charlie), Roddy Shand (Arthur) and Iain King (Inspector Fry).
Ash Baker was the young enthusiastic reporter Clegg, another nicely rounded portrayal.
Terry Casserley fulfilled the role of the slightly dim Syd, who assisted Harry in his duties as hangman, and seemingly had an axe to grind. Very well-observed and a good contrast to the other actors.
Peter Mooney, the unknown and very creepy man, was played with accomplishment by Stewart Woodward, giving us cause to wonder about his intentions and whether he could actually be believed at all. The scene where the chair he is standing on becomes dislodged so that he is hanged, came as a surprise, and was very well achieved, again a triumph for the technical team.
Nick Mower only had a small part as Hennessy, but he played it extremely well, making the opening both emotional and full of intent. A good achievement.
Robert Peacock made Albert Pierrepont a believable figure, enraged by the newspaper article based on Harry’s interview with the reporter. Robert always gets underneath his character, and this was no exception.
Dan Mills and Liz Lewis completed the cast, in small but important roles.
All in all I was very impressed and intrigued by this play, the high standard of technical prowess, and the excellent cast.
My thanks to Bovingdon Players for their hospitality, always good to catch up with you all.