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

A very worthwhile journey

Traveler in the Dark

Hall Green Little Theatre


I MUST admit that rehearsed readings are not my favourite conduits for a playwright's thoughts and ideas.

Too often they look like a work in progress, a rehearsal on a wet Tuesday evening, so much so you half expect the director to stop the reading to go over a part again or one of the actors to ask for a fag break or enquire if they can stop for coffee after the next scene.

So it was somewhat of a relief to discover the studio production of Traveler in the Dark was close to the finished article. The staging was simple, a black wall, four garden chairs and a table and the contents of a rabbit hutch strewn around to represent a garden which meant the cast of four had to work hard to hold the attention of the audience – it was them or nothing.

And hold it they did with a performance that could only have been a few rehearsals short of a full blown production.

The play has travelled a long way, often in the dark to reach this stage with various delays and postponements through illness and unavailability and even this week's run was almost jinxed with a late withdrawal and all credit to Mpho Molopo for stepping in just a week ago to make her HGLT debut as Glory, the wife of surgeon Sam.

She looks like she could well have much to offer with a good voice and clear diction.

Marsha Norma's play is set in the Maryland garden of Sam's father, a tub thumping preacher man, with the family gathering for the funeral of Mavis, Sam's long time head nurse who died when he operated on her.


Sam, played with a cynical view of the world by Philip Astle, is a man in denial, denying everyone and everything he has ever seen, known or felt.

He rails against his father, against the world, his childhood and belief in God; he is angry as Mavis who died because he couldn't save her, and against his wife Glory demanding a divorce.

He is trying to pass on his cynical view of the world to his son, Stephen, played with promising assurance by William Garrett.

Sam's matter of fact, everyone will do as he says world, he is a surgeon after all, falls apart when he tells Stephen to come with him to a new life and the boy refuses. He doesn't want to leave his home, friends - or his mother.

Behind them all is Everett, played by the director Patrick Ryan, who looks and sounds like a country preacher who can find the ways of God in anything – with a bit of ingenuity.

Ryan, who fills the stage impressively, has the advantage of being American so his accent is authentic, the rest, wisely, give the merest hit of being from the other side of the pond. This is also Ryan's 50 up with HGLT – raise your bat to the pavilion sir!

The frictions of past and present are all heading for a dramatic climax, otherwise why write the play, and the clash in the final scene is dramatic and satisfying.

This is far more than a reading and for much of the time the scripts were unobtrusive and there as prompts rather than something to read to an audience.

As I said rehearsed readings are not my favourites but with shows like this I can make an exception. To 15-09-12

Roger Clarke 

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