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I must be one of the few people who hasn’t seen the film of ‘On Golden Pond’ – so came to it with a completely open mind – and found it to be a gentle, perceptive observance of the intertwining of the generations.  

The cast were of a high standard overall, and I really liked the way the play was set and acted.

The use of strobe lighting to highlight the table and chairs where all the action took place was inspired, as it kept the audience focussed on the play, throughout, and the use of everything yellow for props and set dressing, plus a yellow tinge to the lighting, meant that everything within the technical side of the production was linked to the ethos of the play.

The cast in general performed really well, and projection was excellent – as even in the very quiet passages I could hear every word.

Rona Cracknell as Ethel and Alastair Brown as Norman acted just like an old married couple – they looked comfortable with each other and treated each other with the disregard and impatience that a long marriage engenders – and I found the last scenes very poignant.

Rona kept a very soft accent, which suited the part, and bridged the gap between their daughter and her husband and his son very well.  However, Alistair’s acting, understanding of the piece, and creation of a character that was on the edge of dementia, but not quite there yet, was very well achieved, without being too marked – so we were aware of the underlying problems.  

Rona always gives a well-studied performance, with nuances and contrasts – which showed the marked difference between when she was speaking to Norman and Chelsea, the former quite withdrawn, and the latter much more upbeat.

Anna Carter-Brown as their daughter Chelsea, came on stage like a whirlwind that lifted the production, giving it a completely different dimension, which no doubt was the intention.  Anna never makes a bad call on her characterisations, and the depth of feeling in her confrontation with her father was very well accomplished.  It was a comforting feeling that they’d reached some measure of understanding, albeit perhaps a little late.

Steven Pryer as Bill Ray, Chelsea’s boyfriend and then husband, really stepped up his portrayal – he held his own against the other more up-front characters.  I liked what he achieved with the part.

Jaymes Sygrove (the Director) played the small but important part of Charlie the mail man, and one time friend to Chelsea.  Jaymes is capable of creating very good character roles, with an annoying laugh being the focal point for this one, along with the feel of a rather slow emotional development being inherent in the man.

The final cast member was a young man who is rapidly learning his craft – Harrison Watson has until now majored on musical theatre, but he brought excellent understanding to his part as Billy Ray Junior, and his relationship with his grandfather was very touching, and loved the way Norman was trying out the youngster’s slang on the rest of the family.  Harrison’s commitment to a role grows with each performance he gives, and I am sure that working with such an experienced group of actors has benefitted him immensely.

So, overall a thought-provoking play, very well-acted, and covering many different emotions.  I was impressed with all aspects of the play, both on stage and technically.

My thanks to TADS for their hospitality, and for their continued support of NODA and local theatre.


 “ON GOLDEN POND” TADS Theatre, Toddington

review date 20th October 2014

Director: Jaymes Sygrove


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