by David Storey
Produced by John Harris
In the grounds of a house: the present.
- Harry - John Lyne
- Jack - Raymond Nelson
- Marjorie - Lilian Frith
- Kathleen - Pam Lyne
- Alfred - Chris Smith
- Stage Manager - Ann Mattey
- Assistant Stage Manager - Sara Saunders
- Personal Assistant to the Producer - Eileen Nelson
- Lighting - Tony Rapson
- Set Design & Construction - John Harris
- Wardrobe - Hilda Coulden
- Front of House & Box Office - Frank Howcutt
The "home" of David Storey's title might be a country guest house or a secluded hotel in Cheltenham. It is a long time before the author lets us discover that Jack and Harry, two gentlemen of exquisite manners who while away the morning in the walled grounds are in fact inmates of a mental home.
Later on we meet two coarse-grained ladies and a brain-damaged ex-wrestler, and piece together, mainly by hint and allusion, the story of their afflictions. Who would guess, for example, that Jack has a history of molesting small girls?
The play, consisting of mainly fragmented sentences and broken rhythms, is deliberately undramatic.., even anti-dramatic. The S.L.T.C. Newsletter rather oversells it as "one of the finest plays written during the last few decades", but it is undeniably written with great sensibility, and gives wonderul opportunities to both cast and producer.
These have been duly grasped, and this week marks a return to all S.L.T.C.'s old glories. The framework is provided by an autumnal set of superb design and construction by John Harris, whose production contains some of the best acting seen at the Centre in some time.
John Lyne (Harry) and Raymond Nelson (Jack) are beautifully cast, and work together with uncanny empathy during a long (35 minutes) opening scene which is, technically, a real brute. The two actors measure out their short sentences with delicate variation of pause and cadence.
As Marjorie and Kathleen, Lilian Frith and Pamela Lyne build up their own picture on more raucous lines. The latter is at times inclined to overstate the obvious, but there is little enough fault to find with either.
One detects a slight weakness in the casting of Chris Smith as Alfred. He conveys well the man's mindless incomprehension, but might do more to suggest the frightening reserves of physical power, as expressed in his treatment of inanimate objects.
Donald Madgwick, published in The Croydon Advertiser.
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