Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

angels head 

Katy Ball as Jo, Stanley Barten as Bardolph and Viv Cole as Sarah

Entertaining Angels

The Nonentities


ENTERTAINING Angels marks the beginning of The Nonentities 2016 winter season and thoroughly entertaining it was too.

Richard Everett’s story of a quartet of women picking up the pieces after the death of a parish vicar might sound like it would be struggling to create any interest or impact, however, as they sip tea in the garden of the vicarage, all is not as it seems as the plot unravels.

In fact it’s packed with innuendo; infidelity and introspection as each of the women reveal some very serious secrets about the distant and recent past. There is also a fair amount of inspection of the Church and a fair amount of humour that sarcastically counters the mounting tension.

The central character is Grace, the recent widow of Bardolph the parish vicar. Sandy Tudor in this role was exceptional and has the gift of making every word seem like her own rather than saying what has been written.

This was achieved with a razor sharangels Grace and Ruthp accuracy of the text and a skilful understanding of her part as Grace passes along an emotional roller coaster. She brought a real depth to her performance and was a joy to watch.

The ghostly presence of her husband, Bardolph the Vicar is a regular occurrence and he is seen only by Grace his wife. The role played nicely by Stanley Barten is central to the tension of the present day, as his past indiscretions are eventually made aware to his wife after his death.

Sandy Tudor as Grace and Joan Wakeman as Ruth

This gives Grace great scope to question his morality, their lives and the church and some simple staging takes the play from flashback to the present with a few lighting cues by lighting designer Joe Harper.

Grace’s sister Ruth is played solidly by Joan Wakeman. Having returned from her duties as a missionary in Africa for what seems like nothing but sisterly support; she bears a 30 year long secret that is set to tear their relationship and the past apart. This was another very confident and convincing performance.

Sarah is the new incoming vicar, played by Viv Cole, and she heralds the new era of women in the church. With the ghostly Bardolph remembered as the traditional, morally upright pillar of the community, in contrast Sarah has few skeletons tucked away herself that bring her suitability for the job as a vicar into question.

Finally there is Jo, Grace’s daughter played by Katy Ball. Jo is a psychotherapist and so spends most of the time as a mediator and voice of common sense .However it is Jo who ironically is not tainted by wrong doings in her past, who is the one whose marriage has failed.

The play was directed by Marika Farr and she has done a fine job of ensuring the tragedy has enough weight to counter the comedy and the very funny one liners. At times the structure seems awkward with the comedy tripping over the serious overtones but the balance is just about held and the result is an often moving and poignant reflection of five very different lives.

In all this is a thoughtful production with excellent individual performances. Played out on a nice set by Keith Higgins and Mike Lawrence and set on a fine English summers day, Entertaining Angels is a very entertaining escape from the very dreary English winter. To 30-01-16

Jeff Grant


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