On a particularly warm and sunny evening, a hardy few theatre-goers ventured to see this well-written play and sat fanning ourselves with programmes, leaflets, other people’s hands etc.
The story is that two middle-class couples have gone out to dinner and, upon returning to one of the couple’s homes where all are staying, find there has been a burglary. Things have been turned over and items stolen, but the safe left intact (along, curiously, with a large, centrally placed painting that draws the eyes and leaves one thinking ‘Why hasn’t that been pulled off the wall?’)
The couples, as characters, are a heady mix of middle-class insipidness and banality and need to be played as such, with the contrast with who they really are coming out as the situation demands. The householders, John and Barbara Miles (nice anger from Steve Watton and nice sobering up/bored housewife stuff from Helen Johns), find themselves exposed, with the former grabbing his pistol and charging around looking for the culprit. Their guests, Trevor and Jenny Farrington, find that they, too, are caught up in the robbery, losing personal items aplenty, some of which reveal the odd twist or two. David Wickham and Judy Harris carry these parts off nicely.
However, the stinger is that the robber is still in the house and, when apprehended and guarded, plays a whole host of manipulative coercions on his unwilling hosts, using things he has discovered about them from the items he has pilfered, along with his attention to the detail he hears as he goes along.
The burglar, Spriggs, is a pivotal role and a gift of a part. Mick Wright gives a good stab at it and has some laugh-out-loud moments, along with some well-played long speeches. This is particularly so in the second half, where, for all involved, the whole pace of the piece picked up nicely and started to gather some of the energy which was lacking in the first half. Opening night nerves may have been the cause for the prompts to be needed as much as they were, but a factor could have been the heat, which was just about bearable for the audience but must have been blistering and super-sweltering under the lights. So as the run progresses, given the life that stirred in the second half, this production will have all the momentum that the writing needs.
Finally, as always seems to be the case with KCA, the set deserves a big shout-out and was well deserving of the ripple of applause which greeted it at the opening of the curtain.
Future performances: 22, 23 and 24 June.