AWARD: ‘BEST PLAY’ NODA 2016 – Enchanted April – Bembridge Little Theatre Club



“Enchanted April” – Bembridge Little Theatre Club

From the dreary, grey world of Great Britain to the sunny, enchanted shores of Italy, this play explores the relationships between four dissimilar women and the effect the holiday has on two of them who are in unhappy marriages. So, basically it is a play about self-awareness.

Maria Wilkinson – Charlotte Wilton – opens the play with an extended monologue and it soon becomes apparent that she feels trapped in a romance-less marriage. Maria gave the part feeling of hope throughout and her expressive face, which constantly lit up when savouring the beauties of the Ligurian retreat, were a pleasure to watch. That she is eventually reunited with her unsuitably dull husband Mellersh, played admirably by Paul Gwinnett, makes one wonder how long this new-found relationship would be likely to last, since such a less well-matched couple is hard to contemplate.

The other couple, Rose and Frederick Arnott played by Caroline Townson and Andrew Hough respectively, were equally mis-matched, although the case of a philandering husband married to a rather frigid wife, is a well-known scenario.

Rose changed quite dramatically during her holiday and Caroline brought an array of emotions into the part. Andrew, at first a rather irascible and faithless husband, also changed and one felt a compatibility and even happiness, was finally achieved. Certainly they made a believable couple in their interpretations of their soul-searching roles.

The other two unlikely women who were cajoled into sharing the villa were the rather disdainful Lady Caroline Bramley, played with aplomb by the lavishly proportioned Amanda Gregory in an array of flamboyant ensembles, and the waspish Mrs Graves – Martie Cain at her very best. That Mrs Graves became a totally different person in so short a time, only goes to prove what magic sunshine and wisteria can achieve.

The most engaging member of the cast was Jason Harris playing the owner of the villa, Andrew Wilding, who has a flair for making portraits. He was totally charming and a likely source of pray for the man-eating Lady Caroline.

Fiona Gwinnett, in yet another of her extravagant roles, was the housekeeper Costanza. She brought a breath of Italian exuberance on to the stage each time she appeared and her often deliberately eye-rolling glances at the audience reinforced the fact that she understood far more English than she silently admitted to those around her.

This unusual play, in parts very funny, had its highlight in the embarrassed Mellersh, draped in an ever-slipping towel, who finally escaped off stage revealing an almost naked posterior. Now, as this is not by any means the first time that male buttocks have been glimpsed at Bembridge, a witty member of the audience suggested that the e in Bembridge be replaced by u for future productions where modesty is likely to be breached. Over to you BLTC.

Director Liz Jones assisted by Jane Robert.

Performed April 2016

By Rita Boffin.  Originally submitted to NODA’s website.  For more information on the 2016 NODA award visit our earlier posting here.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for our next announcement; winner of Best Musical!

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