Pretzels for Dinner review

Pretzels for Dinner by Janet Shaw

Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group

This very enjoyable play was very sensitively directed by Linda Hudson made good use of stage area and props, with a good practical set, which worked very well.

The opening scene was very effective with mime and absence of dialogue, plus good sound effects worked very successfully. The family unit was cohesive and very believable, with Phil (Rob Hall) and Karen (Emily Joyce) playing the rebellious and slightly abrasive children, unable to understand the situation, or changes that had overtaken the household. Both maintained their arrogant characters throughout the play as a good foil to the timid character of Annie later the mutinous Anne.

Bill (Mike Lacey) ‘died’ magnificently and was one of the best stage ‘deaths’ I have seen for a long time and maintained his lugubrious presence in the sacred chair throughout much of the play throwing in barbed comments, unnoticed by most members of the family.

Annie (Joan Lee) was delightfully bewildered and played her drunken scene in a very restrained and successful way. It so easy to over-play drinking scenes and Joan pitched this just right. She then gave a spirited and contrasted performance when her spectacular transformation into the new Anne took place.

The annoying neighbour Hilary (Sally Lacey) with slightly risqué malapropisms had superb comedy timing. Sally’s portrayal of the intrusive, yet supportive Hilary was a gem, managing to upset everyone apart from Annie. Her slanging match with the deceased Bill had a certain poignancy and was very believable. It had obviously been very well rehearsed!!

The cameo performance of Joan Lovegrove, as the mercenary Irene was just right, appearing bouncy and gave a convincing interpretation of the role. It was unfortunate that her ‘bounciness’ meant, at times, she was a little difficult to hear. It was a pity that Joan was on stage for such a short time as she is always a joy to watch.

The appearance of Paul (Matt Bassett) was a nice contrast to the family, sporting a ‘southern’ accent as opposed to the Yorkshire accents for the rest of the cast. Most of these were maintained very well, although there were a few lapses towards the end of the play.

Overall, the play was very well cast and directed and the humour was well brought out. The first-night audience certainly enjoyed the play, as was witnessed by their laughter throughout and the hearty applause at the end. The momentum of the play was maintained all the way through and there were no awkward dips in the pace or performance. Congratulations to you all.

NJ