"a lukewarm late dark Ayckbourn"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 05/06/14

This was Sir Alan's 75th play, and was well received [even by the critics] a few years ago in Scarborough, and in New York.
Hard to see why, based on Ad Hoc's slow-paced production. The unlikely story centres around Hilda and Martin, sister and brother, annoyingly devout busy-bodies [Jesus always lurking in the bushes] who set up a neighbourhood watch group to defend their green and pleasant development from the threat without. Hilda, who has the long funeral prologue, was done with some style by Wendi Sheard, and the pompous Martin was nicely characterized by David Lintin, with more than a hint of that comedy genius Jim Broadbent.
They are joined in their green lounge by assorted neighbours. Good work from Shealagh Dennis as Dorothy, fifteen years on the local rag [though only taking small ads, it transpires] and from Paul Carey as Gareth, forever tinkering in his shed and dreaming up medieval chastisement for his wayward wife [Leanne Gibbs, who had a promising alphabetical duologue with Lintin but elsewhere was often hard to hear].
Rod – ex-army, security mad and a close cousin of Harvey in Season's Greetings – was played by Stewart Goodwin. He has some of the best lines - “The country’s flooded with them … Eastern Europe. Never should have torn down the Iron Curtain. Biggest mistake we ever made.” - but unfortunately had his words [and his eyes] glued to his clip-board. Martin Wilderspin was menacing as Luther, the violent voice of sanity [but an unlikely Guardian reader], with Candy Lillywhite-Taylor as his kindly clarinet-teaching wife.
The room – with its controversial wallpaper – was well furnished, and the fire next door was effective. It was a shame there was no light for the garden and the other rooms; or even a glimpse of the stocks and the razor wire …
Hayley Joanne Bacon's production was sometimes a little static, but had some lovely moments of conflict and [occasional] intimacy. The chief obstacle to our appreciation of this dark, late Ayckbourn was the uncertainty of the actors – no prompts, it's true, but far too much hesitation and approximation. Comedy needs confidence and careful timing.

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