St Albans theatre company makes a monster

PUBLISHED: 15:52 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

The Anniversary is at the Abbey Theatre until Saturday

The Anniversary is at the Abbey Theatre until Saturday

A MONSTER has been stalking the stage of the Abbey Theatre – and that is not a word I generally use to describe actress Margaret Metcalf. But monster she is as Mum in the Company of Ten s current production The Anniversary at the St Albans theatre. Fittin

A MONSTER has been stalking the stage of the Abbey Theatre - and that is not a word I generally use to describe actress Margaret Metcalf.

But monster she is as Mum in the Company of Ten's current production The Anniversary at the St Albans theatre.

Fittingly in its 75th season, the Company of Ten chose to put on Bill MacIlwraith's black comedy and there was no doubt from the audience response on Saturday evening that they loved it.

In fact Philip Reardon, who plays one of Mum's three sons Henry must have had his own fan club there on the night from the volume of noise which greeted his first appearance and subsequent curtain call.

The Anniversary first appeared in the West End in 1966 and director Tim Hoyle chose to set it in November 1985 for several reasons, not least of which was the property boom and the fact it was a time of unrest .

Mum has inherited her late husband's building firm and her three sons work for her. As ruthless as any Rachman, she controls the business and her sons with a rod of iron - or thinks she does.

The role of Mum is a demanding one and Margaret Metcalf took a while to get into her stride but when she did, she demonstrated exactly why her sons, with the possible exception of Tom, played by Alex Bell, are in thrall to her.

Her comic timing was excellent and her soliloquy to her dead husband a masterclass in hypocrisy.

She was helped by a very good cast, particularly the two other women, Lucy Crick as Tom's ingénue fiancée Shirley and Helen Miller as Karen, the wife of Mum's other son Terry.

Feisty and ready to give as good as she gets, Karen is more than a match for Mum in the verbal department and her anger when Mum pulls a particularly dreadful stunt is palpable.

Shirley is like a lamb to the slaughter and Lucy captures just the right balance of innocence combined with growing horror about the character of her future mother in law.

Lester Adams as Terry is also very believable as the son whom Mum has got most under her thumb and you know that he will never completely escape her clutches.

The Anniversary runs until Saturday in the main theatre and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON

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