Peter Coke’s play, Breath of Spring was a big hit when it was originally released, and was quickly adapted into the 1960 film, Make Mine Mink, which starred several great British actors, including Terry Thomas, Hattie Jacques, and a young Billie Whitelaw as the maid. The film also included elements of his sequel to this play, Midsummer Mink. Therry Dramatic Society have taken us back to the source with this production of the original play.
Once again, Therry have played smart and waited until late March before opening this production, and the result was a packed theatre to see director, John Graham’s interpretation. The title of this play may seem odd at first, but “Breath of Spring” was the name given to a naturally pale blue coloured, quite rare mink pelt, used in very expensive and exclusive clothing.
Dame Beatrice Appleby (Julia Whittle) is a generous soul, but her money has run low and she has taken in paying guests, a disparate group consisting of Brigadier Rayne (Geoff Hastwell), retired, Miss Nanette Parry (Sue Wylie), a voice coach, Miss Elizabeth Hatfield (Patricia Vice), a not very talented china repairer, and Alice, Lady Miller (Megan Dansie). The other member of the household is the maid, Lily Thompson (Anna Bampton), who is a reformed thief, and who has ‘done time’ in prison.
Grateful for the chance that she has been given by Lady Beatrice, Lily presents her with a fur, opportunistically stolen from the neighbouring flat. The group put aside their differences and pull together, under the Brigadier’s planning and organisation, to return the fur before it is missed. The excitement gets to all of them and they decide to steal furs to raise money to help those in need.
Detective Sergeant Pape (Brad Martin) and P. C. Kemp (Stanley Tuck) turn up, and all Hell breaks loose as the gang try desperately to cover up every trace of their illegal activities. Lily comes to the rescue and tries to save them from the consequences of their indiscretions.
The age of the play shows, with a lot of dialogue and rather slow exposition, which today can be confused for lack of pace. There are some very good moments, particularly when the group are under pressure, but the opening night was somewhat uneven. Much of this was due to a few of the cast struggling to remember lines and stumbling over them. Some had superb diction and projection, but a few dropped their voices and were a little hard to understand at times. Overall, though, it was an evening of light fun, there were plenty of laughs and, with opening night nerves settled and a couple of runs, this should improve.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: ARTS Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: to Sat 6th April 2013 (Note: no performances during Easter week)
Duration: 2hrs 30min (incl. interval)
Tickets: $11 to $25
Bookings: Directly through Therry on 8410 5515 (10 am to 5 pm weekdays, noon to 7 pm Saturdays) or via BASS 131 246, BASS outlets, or Venuetix outlets