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.
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