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“Ladies in Retirement”

A play set in a house in the Thames Estuary based on a murder committed around the end of the 19th century.  

The set was good, however I didn’t like the dining room chair set at the end of the settee, as it restricted movement and appeared to get in the way at times.

The cast all projected well, so there was no problem hearing lib.

The sound effects were very loud, and seemed to start and stop very abruptly, it would have been nice to have them phased in and out more gently, to give a more realistic feel.  

I liked the costumes, they were all very suitable and looked good.  Leonora’s wig was very striking, as it needed to be.

There were several prompts needed, which always stops the flow of a production, and a few muddled name references.  I felt that overall I needed a bit more energy from the cast as a whole.

Irene Morris created a really good character as Louisa Creed – we got the real feeling of a woman of the times with strong views and a slightly childish outlook, I really liked her interpretation.

Julie Field, as Louisa’s sister Emily, got the rather sly character very well, you could feel her pent up anger at times.  The two sisters interacted well.

Ellen Creed, the third sister, the one with a good understanding of how to get her own way, and who carried out the murder, was played by Jan Westgarth.  I liked the way she talked the other sisters round and also how she handled her employer, but needed a bit more dismay and concern when Albert realised what she’d done.

Viv Fairley was Leonora Fiske, the owner of the house, and Ellen’s employer.  Whilst there was a good character in development, I needed a bit more emphasis on the fact that she was the owner, and thought she was in charge, even though we could see that Ellen was devious and manipulative.

I thought that Pip Dowdell as Lucy the maid, missed some opportunities to bring out the simplicity of the woman, especially in Act 1.  Although there were some very telling facial expressions, that gave the audience a laugh.

The only man in the cast was Bruce King, who played the ne’er-do-well Albert Feather, who thought nothing of conning money out of people, and had some amusing lines to deliver.  I felt there was not enough of that ‘light bulb’ moment shown in his face and actions when he realised what Ellen had done.

The play was very traditional, I just felt it needed something to lift it and create more drama and interest.  There was a lot of intrigue within the plot that didn’t get enough emphasis.

A nice evening’s entertainment, that was enjoyable and amusing, but just needed lifting to the next level.

Wheathampstead Dramatic Society


Review date: 19th May 2016

Village Hall, Wheathampstead

Director: Robin Langer


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