The Greville Theatre Club

Birthday Honours

by Paul Jones

Oct/Nov 2012

Directed by
Steve Braham

Michael Gray's Arts Blog


Greville Theatre Club at the Barn Theatre Little Easton


They're the microwave meals of the theatre world – shunned by connoisseurs and professionals, not really very satisfying, stuffed with familiar ingredients and unsubtle seasoning, yet strangely popular.  These light comedies and thrillers are often well crafted, and enjoyable in an undemanding way.  Rather like Light Music, represented at the Greville by Bob Farnon's apposite Portrait of a Flirt, curtain music which placed this rare revival firmly in the 50s, when Paul Jones's potboiler had its brief heyday at the Criterion.

And if you're going to revive this kind of piece, you couldn't do much better than this painstaking reconstruction of a style rarely encountered outside Round the Horne.  

The deep set was solid and convincing, though not always evenly lit.  And the costumes [Judy Lee] were superb, especially perhaps Mrs Titheradge's Act One outfit.

This formidable "femme fatale" was deliciously done by Rita Vango; an object lesson in timing an exit line and delivering all her cutting remarks as if they were Wilde.  The other stand-out performance was Peter Simmons' endocrinologist.  Genial, suave, sophisticated, he handled his two-timing wife with unfailing courtesy, but always with a hint of the turmoil beneath the surface.  I loved the way he calmly poured tea, and the way he delivered the not very funny egg-cosy line.

Marcia Baldry was his "dazzling piece of tinsel", Adam Thompson the dashing silly-ass object of her affections.  Their emotional farewell – "one brief kiss and then oblivion" – was very enjoyably overdone.  Two unsatisfied ladies completed the cast: Lynda Shelverton as the surgeon's besotted secretary, and Sonia Lindsey-Scripps excellent as the dowdy sister [memorably sucking lemon slices] who finally gets her man.

An "echo of a bygone age", middle-class post-war mores played for laughs.  Steve Braham's production was stylish and polished, though the words were less secure than one might have hoped in the second week, and the cut-glass RP accent was not universally mastered.

But as enjoyable a glass of gin and sherry as you will find on the amateur stage, much appreciated by the capacity audience in the Little Easton Barn.