Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Entertaining Angels - The Lowry Theatre, Salford

Entertaining Angels
Writer: Richard Everett
Director: Alan Strachan
Reviewer: Iris Beaumont

A late September evening and a good crowd has gathered at the Lowry Theatre to welcome Penelope Keith’s latest play ‘Entertaining Angels.’

Gasp were drawn as the curtain raised to reveal the stunning set designed by Paul Farnworth, and for this reviewer one of the best set designs I have ever seen, The lifelike garden of the Old Rectory is the setting for this wonderfully and enthralling play.

Grace (Penelope Keith) is grieving over the loss of her husband Bardolph who happened to be the local parish vicar through her loss Grace seems to think that everyone should understand her problems without much thought about those around her or the consequences of such behaviour, not only must she learn to cope through her grieving but also have to put up with a visit from her sister Ruth, a missionary in Africa. As the story unfold we find that Grace is also under pressure to vacate her home of over 30 years to make way for the new female vicar of the parish Sarah.

The whole cast manage to hold the audience’s attention throughout, with plenty to laugh about but also with some darker and stronger emotional scenes thrown in too, Richard Everett’s script is full of sharp and biting one liners with which suit Keith’s dry and biting portrayal to a tea!

As one would expect from a theatrical old timer as Keith, you are given nothing short of the best and her performance is brilliant and aided by Polly Adams superb performance as Ruth, the rest of the cast are strong and highly supportive, providing one of the best ensemble’s I have seen on stage in a long time, the chemistry between them is electrifying.

There are some interesting devises used in the play, and one of the strongest is the way we see Grace coping with her grief by seeing and talking to her late husband’s spirit in two of his favourite places the potting shed or underneath the branches of the tree down by the stream where he used to write all his sermons. Director Alan Strachan has a gentle touch throughout, never over doing the comedy or the emotional weighting of the piece and finding a balance that makes the show sit above other pieces in this genre.

Entertaining Angels is a touching and heart warming piece of theatre and is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish!
Runs until Sat 3rd October
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