Entertaining Angels takes flight at Abbey Theatre

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 September 2015

Entertaining Angels

Entertaining Angels

Abbey Theatre

It may sound obvious but the first production of a new theatre season is particularly important to the success of the remainder of the term.

And this year the Company of Ten has chosen particularly well with Entertaining Angels, a comedy by Richard Everett which centres on a family secret that only comes to light after the death of Bardy, husband of the main protagonist Grace.

The spiky Grace is at the heart of a play which requires a set with a house, a garden and a greenhouse- and if that was not enough, a stream which is pivotal because it is where Bardy dies and much rumination takes place.

The set was designed by director Lee Harris and constructed by a team led by Cliff Stratford and they really deserve praise for the way they have done it.

The Company of Ten is good at sets but this one is exceptional.

Entertaining Angels reunites two of the Company of Ten’s evergreen performers, Suzie Major and John Pyke, both of whom have been sadly absent from the Abbey Theatre stage for some time.

As the acid-tongued Grace, who has most of the best lines in the play, Suzie is excellent. She really immerses herself in a character whose belief in God is poles apart from that of Bardy who appears to her throughout the play, leading the other characters to believe Grace is talking to herself and losing her marbles.

John’s lugubrious Bardy is a perfect foil for the sparky Grace but her best scenes are really with the other characters, particularly her missionary sister Ruth, played by Jane Willis, whose impact on Grace is obvious right from the start when she cuts the lawn while her sister is on the phone.

Jane’s performance and that of Jill Priest as Grace and Bardy’s daughter Jo is first-rate and I really liked Diana Clutterbuck as Sarah whom we meet measuring up the vicarage for when she moves in as priest in charge.

Entertaining Angels is a comedy that relies greatly on timing and it would be fair to say the cast as a whole are flawless. As the tension rises so does their proficiency in their roles - you really feel you are eavesdropping on real-life conversations which is no easy task for director or performers.

MADELEINE BURTON

Entertaining Angels runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

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