Theatre Review: Before The Party

Theatre Review: Before The Party

Based on Somerset Maugham’s short story set just post-war in the golf-club set of Surrey, Rodney Ackland’s play takes a mostly satirical look at the behaviour of this upper-middle class family.

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Presented by Independent Theatre
Reviewed 21 Apr 2017

Based on Somerset Maugham’s short story set just post-war in the golf-club set of Surrey, Rodney Ackland’s play takes a mostly satirical look at the behaviour of this upper-middle class family. The family is preparing to attend a garden party with all the ‘right people’ when their daughter Laura drops a bombshell. Laura, recently widowed, is just back from Africa where she said her husband died of malaria. Apart from wanting to wear clothing other than mourning weeds before she is out of the morning period, Laura announces that she intends s to re-marry, soon!

Under Rob Croser’s fine direction the cast of this production bring these characters to life, most of them decidedly unlikeable. Laura, the headstrong ‘modern’ woman, played beautifully by Madeleine Herd, elicits some sympathy, initially. Laura Antoniazzi is wonderfully vindictive as Laura’s sister, Kathleen, not missing an opportunity to undermine or vex. The parents, David Roach, at his patriarchal best, and Bronwyn Ruciak, channelling all the snobbish self-centred mothers you know, are a horrid delight.

Will Cox is the intended fiancé who learns probably much more that he wants to know about this family and his would-be bride. Cox is great in the role, walking the tightrope between being himself and appearing as what they want to see. Wandering through this maze is Myra Waddell as Nanny, sympathetic but bewildered, played with an undercurrent of common sense. The most normal family member is Susan, twelve years old, not yet infected with the snobbery and played very well by Jenna Bezuidenhout.

All this on another excellent Independent set by David Roach and his helpers, well lit by Bob Weatherly. This company continue to provide interesting plays which make good theatre.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Goodwood Theatre
Season: 21 -29 Apr 2017
Duration: 2hr min
Tickets: Adult $35 Conc $30 Student $18
Bookings: www.independenttheatre.org.au or BASS 131 246

 

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