Chesil Theatre did full justice to Priestley’s well-crafted dialogue and characterisations. Norma York’s faultless comedic timing as the mischievous charlady, Mrs Northrop, stood out. Harriet Gandy as Ruby the maid was equally entertaining as a 15-year-old working class lass, breezing through the trauma in her employers’ lives as if it were a works outing.
The obtuse and pompous Councillor Albert Parker was captured perfectly by Eric Petterson. Juliet Surridge as his wife gave a subtle performance, gradually emerging from her timidity with very satisfactory results. Caroline Hall and Paul Revell were convincing as the snobbish Helliwells. A very scary Clara Soppitt was played by Rachel O’Neill and Stephen Percy gained our sympathy as Herbert, the woebegone husband. Richard Martin was hilarious as the drunken photographer and well matched with Marina Humphrey’s saucy performance as Lottie.
The production was authentic to the period, from costumes by Gerry Tuff to sound designer Malcolm Brown’s jaunty brass band music. The detailed Edwardian parlour furnishings were meticulous from set designer David James. Director Lisbeth Rake used the theatre’s small stage very cleverly. At the beginning of the play, the three wives are seated passively whilst the men stood authoratively, but this tableau shifted as the play progressed. The movement and placement underscored the changes in dynamics as social reserve began to seep away. This was a polished performance from the Chesil Theatre’s actors and a great evening’s entertainment.