‘A great night out’ – CTW receives review for Spring production

This review of CTW’s Spring Production 2019 was added with kind permission of its owner Gloria Mile.

A delightful evening at Cottenham Village College courtesy of Cottenham Theatre Workshop ……. May 9th – May 11th.

You can always guarantee a warm welcome awaits audiences when you arrive at Cottenham Village College for an evening of entertainment provided by Cottenham Theatre Workshop.

Last week was no exception! ……. Two one act plays by Tom Stoppard, directed by Kerry O’Connell, were the spring offering for 2019.
I am often left with mixed feelings about some of Stoppard’s work, but the choice for these two plays was excellent ……. providing the audience with a funny, thoughtful but above all an entertaining evening.

The first play was ‘A Separate Peace’ which was first transmitted on television in August 1966.

John Brown arrives at a country nursing home with a suitcase of cash expecting hotel style service. He is rather a mystery to a profession geared to treating the sick and elderly. John appears to be physically well and apparently not mentally ill ……. in fact, he seems to be someone who just wants peace and quiet, combined with some tender loving care.
He is reluctantly given a room by the confused staff and settles comfortably into the routine and cocoon-like security it provides. The staff speculate about his real identity ….. “why does he want to be here?”

One of the nurses, Maggie Coates, becomes his favourite and spends time talking to him.  During these talks there are times when the audience might consider that John may have suffered from post war depression when he reveals that he was a prisoner of war for four years. He has no interest in family, but the diligent Doctor and his team eventually track down John’s family and invite them to come to visit the nursing home to see him.

This is not an outcome which is welcomed by John and he immediately packs his bags and leaves.

One could not help feeling sorry for this man …….my simple interpretation was that all he wanted was space, peace and quiet (don’t we all at times!) . 

All of the characters in this play were very well cast ! 
John Unwin was excellent as John Brown and he played the part with a range of emotions conveying his frustrations, needs, and naivety very well. I could not help felling empathetic towards him.
The Nurse was well played by Jane Holliday, who tried really hard to discourage John from taking up a bed in the nursing home. She clearly ran the reception area in an efficient manner. Chris Field played the Doctor who spent a great deal of his time on the phone playing detective, and trying to discover the true identity of their unusual resident. Nurse Maggie Coates, played by Nathalie Morgan, was the real detective though ……. she found out more about John than anyone else ……and he trusted her and relaxed his guard, revealing a few secrets. The Matron played by Mary Garside looked the part , but was gentle and persuasive with John convincing him that he might like to take up painting !
Consequently, John painted a lovely mural on his bedroom wall …… I do hope the home kept it for the next resident!

All of the performances were supported well with a simple but effective set and good lighting .

Well done to all concerned ….. a short but thought provoking piece of theatre.

The second half of the evening was a slightly longer play written by Tom Stoppard between 1961 and 1962. It is one of his funniest plays.

The plot in ‘The Real Inspector Hound’ follows two theatre critics Mood and Birdfoot who are watching a ludicrous set up of a country house murder mystery, portrayed in the style of a whodunnit. By chance the critics become involved with the action causing a series of events that parallel the play they are watching. 
Eventually Moon is shot whilst on stage and the real Inspector Hound proves to be …..?

Again, this play was very well cast …… demonstrating the fantastic range of talented actors there are in CTW.  

Tim Kelby played the part of the pretentious Moon and was impressive …… how he managed to learn the script and deliver it with such speed and clarity was amazing.
Birdboot was played by Mark Nolan, portraying the part of a serial philanderer convincingly, inviting actresses out after each show , but at the same time maintaining that he is faithful to his devoted wife Myrtle…… in public, on stage ! 

Mrs Drudge played by Chloe Watson was a definite contender for a part in Acorn Antiques ! ….. a great performance which was equally matched by the lady of the house Cynthia Muldoon played by the talented Barbara Duckworth. It was such a relief when she was reunited with her husband Magnus Muldoon played by Duncan McCallum. We suspected he was in disguise because of the wig and beard ! Well done Duncan !

Simon Gascogne, well played by Chris Field was a mysterious man who has dumped Felicity Cunningham, delightfully played by Emma Ward, and he has now fallen for Cynthia Muldoon.
Inspector Hound played by Ben Shimmens arrives on the scene, searching for a madman, and the company finally (!) notice the body which has been under the sofa the whole time !!
When they all search the house, Simon comes on stage , examines the body and is shot. Who killed Simon and why ?
As the show continues, both theatre critics are gradually drawn onstage, with catastrophic consequences……

This play was a pleasure to watch with a great cast , set and technical team.

Well done CTW …….. a great night out 

Gloria Milne