The Monkeys Paw, by W. W. Jacobs took us back to the late 1800’s and the superstition that goes with that era. It is this superstition that sets the plot for the play and the phrase “be careful what you wish for” certainly rings true when tragedy takes place in order for the desired wish to come true. The minor cameo roles played by Ian Duckworth, James Haslam and James Abercrombie were essential in giving the opportunity for what I will describe as the main characters in this play to tell the story. Fran Shinks as Mrs White gave a sterling performance which gave contrast from being a typical wife to a mother devastated by bereavement. This was complimented by Mark Weatherall’s interpretation Mr White. Mark never disappoints and this performance was no exception. A well measured and balanced performance, we were taken through the story with the skill of dramatic interpretation that comes as second nature to Mark. Both performers held the audience’s attention as we sat in anticipation to see what the next wish would be – thrilling as described, this age old play, directed by Ben Latham still keeps an audience on its toes.
In contrast to the dark plot of the first play, Tim Firth’s A Man of Letters shows a light-hearted, and in places poignant take on life with comedy being interjected by a slight sniff of pathos. This 2 hander was well presented by director James Haslam. Set on the window ledge of a business unit the 2 workers aim to complete the task of displaying the letters of the building’s owner, only for the letters to spell out something completely different. Ben Latham as trainee letter fitter Alan was a joy to watch as he bumbles though the working day with more tea breaks than the working time directive will ever consider and an amount of chocolate that will keep a well-known chocolatier in business for many years to come. Ben’s energetic performance had you watching his every move.
Peter Haslam, as experienced letter fitter Frank was just right. Veteran Peter knows his stuff and was comfortably at home is plying his apprentice with an overkill of life advice and countless metaphors. Peter’s facial expressions are priceless and these were on display throughout the performance. This was a wordy play and both actors delivered faultless dialogue whilst dealing with life-sized prop letters – no easy task on a ledge!
This was a cracking night’s entertainment and with the bargain of “buy one get one free” you’d be crazy to miss it