Theatre review - Woman In Mind, Chorley Little Theatre
PUBLISHED: 09:51 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 17 October 2019
Rob Gemmell reviews the CADOS production of the Alan Ayckbourn play.
Alan Ayckbourn plays are known the world over. To some he is the one of the greatest English playwright's - second only to William Shakespeare. His fans will be able to reel off the name of his most popular plays without a second's thought. "Woman In Mind" probably won't feature high on that list and it is concerning to understand why as it is a very clever and beautifully written story.
We open on a tranquil English garden, but more importantly, the prostrate figure of Susan lying on the grass. She is being assisted by Bill, a doctor, after she received a blow to the head by stepping on an upturned rake - comedy cliché! What we are witness to from then on in is whatever is going on in Susan's head. The audience become Susan and feel her woes and aguish coupled with her feelings of joy and happiness. Her life is dull, mundane and boring and in her head she longs for much better - a loving husband, a rich, varied lifestyle, a beautiful daughter and a brother - all of whom adore her. The constant intertwining of her lives starts to get the better of her and we begin to see the cracks appear as she struggles to cope with the affliction.
This is my first venture into a CADOS production and I can only apologise for not having attended more. I could see from the outset the values of this Production and the society were exceptional. CADOS perform at the quaint Chorley Little Theatre - soon to be re-branded simply as "Chorley Theatre" a venue itself which holds so much history and the group pride themselves on putting on a professional show.
Director Dave Reid has chosen a wonderful play to perform and, in turn, a wonderful cast to bring Ayckbourn's characters to life. He has also taken on the dual role of not just director, but also as a performer, bringing life to the doctor, Bill. The set was nothing short of perfect which wouldn't have looked out of place on a professional stage and Dave's excellent direction was accompanied by a superb supporting cast of the light and sound team. The backdrop of the set being stooped in a different swirl of colours to depict Susan's state of mind worked brilliantly and helped tell the story.
Dave himself, as mentioned before, portrayed the bumbling and somewhat accident-prone role of Bill to absolute perfection with some key comedy moments and laugh-out-loud slapstick performances. Andrew Lomax played the role of Gerald who is Susan's real, yet uninspiring husband convincingly well and he was mirrored by Jack Vardy as Andy - the husband that Susan wants to have in a very believably suave role complete with the added Hollywood smile and look of perfection. Tess Lucas was brilliant as Gerald's sister, Muriel who cannot seem to put a foot right. Liv Chandler was excellent as Lucy - the daughter Susan craves, and Jacob Lee Prince was perfect as her brother, Tony complete with an air of pompous aristocracy - all characters who are part of the other half of her mind - the part of her life she could only dream of. Ross Howarth provided a very natural and realistic performance as Rick - the son she struggles to bond with which leads her to crave for a daughter - someone she could be close to. They were all led by the superb Cassandra Moon who excelled in her portrayal of the tormented Susan. The role itself is an extremely challenging one and she made it look so easy.
You can always rely on an Ayckbourn comedy to delivery extravagant characters along with moments of laughter and huge segments of dialogue, but those are many of the reasons that his plays are so well received. "Woman In Mind" is a fantastic conception of a comparison of lives, of how we look to change the way we live, but with painful consequences. With a story of such detail and projection you need a stage and a cast to pull it off and CADOS did exactly that leaving the packed auditorium entertained and still wiping the tears of laughter from their eyes at the final curtain.
The show continues at Chorley Little Theatre on Thursday 17th October, Friday 18th October and Saturday 19th October at 7:30pm.
For ticket enquiries please visit the Chorley Little Theatre website at - www.chorleylittletheatre.com, but hurry - they are selling fast!