I really enjoyed the performance last Wednesday. It was worth watching! Especially the second performance. I hope in the near future they will have more shows like that.
Quang (Unverified), 24/04/10
In the delightfully hospitable space of Wolvercote Village Hall you will find a very special kind of theatre and an excellent cup of tea. Here the St Peter's Players are offering a winning selection of three short plays linked by an interest in revelations. A sardonic, wry, unaffected and wonderfully joyful evening awaits.
In Fay Weldon’s The Reading Group, five very different women try to decide on their next book. Discussion moves between possible titles and personal experience. At first fractious and defensive, then with growing curiosity, and soon with a genuine need to see and evaluate other paths, they discover fragments of each other’s lives, turning over the choices they each have made and the struggle between isolation and love. Partly a play of ideas - here mainly about marriage and its alternatives - the performance works most of all as the representation of a gathering all too familiar: the separate selves who seek, here in a reading group, something new, maybe something life-transforming, only to find again the reality of their unanswered questions and imperfect lives.
We move on to Sour Grapes and Ashes by Nick Warburton, for another gathering, this time around two brightly coloured tins: one containing Father and the other his dog Derrick. Under the intense direction of bereaved son Bernard, family members play out a scene that oscillates between significance and absurdity with some infectiously comic moments. But for comedy, the gem of the evening has to be Warburton's The Last Bread Pudding. Here a group of actors and stage hands discourse their way around the question of Art in a superlatively entertaining and witty mix of aesthetic enquiry, acerbic anti-intellectualism, genuine bewilderment, and a barrage of unforgettable lines (‘I didn’t envisage a speaking role for the bread pudding’).
Through these well-chosen plays, performed with enthusiasm and enjoyment, we revel in the power of theatre to bind and entertain us, yet we are also brought to acknowledge with Warburton’s Denise that ‘everyday life is all there is’. It is because the St Peter’s Players never lose touch with that ordinariness that they hold their audience with such warmth and humour. They play to us and yet they are also among us. And ‘everyday life’ feels a much happier place as a result.
Fiona MacDonald (DI Reviewer), 22/04/10
Home Truths consists of three short plays about secret lives. The plays are an amateur production by arrangement with Samuel French Ltd. The three plays are entitled The Reading Group, Sour Grapes and Ashes and The Last Bread Pudding.
The first of these is based round a women’s reading group. In theory the play is about five women trying to decide which book to read. In practice, choosing a book seems to be the last thing on their minds. Once Tom (youngish boyfriend to Oriole) is dispatched to the nearby pub the five women get to discussing divorce, fidelity, satisfaction in marriage and stress counselling. A sub-plot is whether Anne’s (Mary Drennan) husband (Harry, played by Jon Price) is having an affair with his therapist. There are a few laughs along the way but in the main this play is serious – especially when it reaches the climax.
The author of the play is Fay Weldon so there are no qualms about the script. The acting, in parts, was a little shaky – but, please remember, this is an amateur production. In addition, one actress (Annette Jaggard) was detained in India by ash from Iceland and her place was hurriedly taken by Clare Winterbottom. Despite being script-in-hand, Clare performed well and gave a hint of her acting abilities that would be explored in both the next two plays.
Sour Grapes and Ashes by Nick Warburton concerns the distribution of Bernard’s father (cremated) and ‘Derek’, the dog despised by many. One problem though. Derek’s ashes have been lost. The play revolves around looking for the ashes but within the play Bernard (Tony Bywaters) and his daughter (Eve Winterbottom) make up after a horrendous argument.
The acting is excellent – in particular Clare Winterbottom and Tony Bywaters. The latter is featured on the current youtube video on the St Peter’s website.
The third play, The Last Bread Pudding is about a theatre group planning its next production. The ideas put forward by the committee are also acted out and so the play is both a demonstration and discussion of the ideas. It’s also very funny.
Overall the evening is fantastic value for money. 2 ½ hours of entertainment and still change from a tenner! All three plays are well-written, with the first play causing less laughter than the others. Special mention must go to the acting of Claire Winterbottom and Gill Somerscales. Given the absence of Annette Jaggard, the group performed remarkably well. Tickets are £7 (£5 concessions). There is plenty of parking AND after the play you can go to The Plough nearby, one of the best pubs in Oxford!
chrisOSL (DI Reviewer), 22/04/10
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