Trapped At Southanger Park - Review

NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association)

Review by Caroline Roberts
Georgian mansion with formal gardens.
Trapped At Southanger Park

Title: 'Pride at Southanger Park' by Rupert Bean and 'Trapped' by Michael Green
Director: Simon Reader
Performed at The Studio, Dovercourt on Thursday 21st July 2016 at 7.30pm

On a warm Summer evening we were welcomed into the Studio by the friendly, efficient and smartly attired front of house members. First impressions of the set were good: whilst not strictly Regency in style the ambiance of a country house drawing room had been well created with a few well-placed items of furniture and suitable pictures on the wall.

Right from the start of 'Pride at Southanger Park' the scene was set for a series of mishaps and mistakes as the increasingly desperate cast attempted to get the play back on course. Lucy Lear and Duffy Tomei as Cecily Chichester and Lady Fanny Bottomley were attired in authentic Regency gowns and this combined with their beautifully dressed hair and upper class accents struck just the right note. Richard Kemp-Luck was amusing as the Reverend Giles Henry - still getting his lines wrong even though he was obviously reading his lines from his ever handy Bible and Jordan Brown was suitably blustering as Sir Thomas Bottomley. Mrs Squires was nicely portrayed by Katherine Johnson and Adam Vaclavk was very good at looking like a frightened rabbit caught in the headlights as he gave his monotone delivery as William Squires. Love interest was provided by the swaggering (and bulging!) Marcus D'Angelo - a very funny performance by Rob Porter. In the midst of all this Gemma Quinn as the hapless maid Gladys blundered comically around the stage underneath her overlarge hat. Just to add to the mayhem occurring on stage Margaret Coleman was very convincing as the bossy front of house Manager continually interrupting the proceedings.

During the Interval drinks, nibbles and cakes were served by the still costumed cast from the Marquee outside - a nice touch that continued the theme of the evening.

On returning inside time had moved forward to 1949 and the set had been cleverly re-arranged and weapons hung on the wall to create the country house setting for the next play 'Trapped'. Once again it was clear that all was not going to go well for this play as the action soon descended into chaos, complete with missed cues, doors falling off hinges and dead bodies a plenty. Rob Porter and Margaret Coleman ably portrayed Major and Mrs Thompson and Maree Norris, Linda Potter and Steve Fisher created good characterisations as the three Cousins. Chris Root was suitably believable as the family Solicitor Braithwaite and Caroline Thomas did very well as the maid - Katherine Johnson gave a good contrast to her earlier performance by appearing as the Stage Manager forced to stand in as the Policeman - never once looking up from her script as she delivered her expressionless lines.

Overall this was a fun and amusing evening of entertainment. The plays, which were in the vein of 'Noises Off' or 'The Play That Goes Wrong' were however a little underwritten and it is a shame that the playwrights had not developed the scripts more as they were both rather short plays. Timing, which is all important in this type of play, could have been a bit sharper at times and although it is always difficult to make things appear natural on stage some of the 'accidents' which occurred did look a little contrived. An unscripted but amusing moment occurred during the first play when a member of the audience in the front row crawled onto the set and tried to fix back a caster which had fallen off the chair. He had not realised that it was meant to happen and this, and the resulting hissed 'leave it' from the front of house, could have easily been incorporated into the action of the play!

Thank you Dovercourt Theatre Group for an enjoyable evening and we look forward to your future productions.

Rehearsal Pictures
Rehearsal shots for Trapped
Trapped
Rehearsal shots for Pride at Southanger Park
Pride at Southanger Park