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“A PLAY WELL WORTH SEEING”
It seems that was the general opinion of the audience for Lucilla Dramatic Society’s production, “ON GOLDEN POND” at Crosby Civic Hall (writes local drama critic “Spotlight”). From the minute the curtains opened on the comfortable, lived-in sitting room of a holiday home at the lakeside resort of Golden Pond in Maine, USA, the audience was drawn into the lives of retired professor Norman Thayer Jnr. (who had just reached 80) and his wife, Ethel, spending their 48th summer together on Golden Pond.
Norman bitterly resents ageing, and all Ethel’s attempts to involve him in their usual summer routine are to no avail, when the daughter they haven’t seen for eight years arrives for her father’s 80th birthday. She brings along her fiancé and his son, and the rapport that springs up between the octogenarian academic and the streetwise Californian kid gives Norman a renewed interest in life.
Gordon Craig excelled in the role of Norman, delivering his dry, humorous put-downs with near-perfect timing, in a manner reminiscent of the late James Stewart. Another fine performance came from Aileen Ward as Ethel, adopting a brisk, no-nonsense approach to her husband’s contrary behaviour in the earlier scenes, only cracking near the end, when she thought (wrongly) that he was dying, revealing just how much she really loved her “old poop”.
As estranged daughter, Chelsea, Alison Jones had the difficult task of conveying a complex character over just two scenes. Her change from brittleness to maturity was skilfully handled, complemented by the performance of 14-year-old Adam Neep as Billy, her eventual stepson, whose arrival transforms Norman’s life. This young actor could well be a name to watch.
A memorable cameo came from Mike Quirke, playing Charlie, the Golden Pond mailman, a friendly, chatty busybody with an infuriating laugh, who had idolised Chelsea since teenage days, but would probably have driven her to murder in a shared relationship. Another excellent characterisation was Bob Stone’s Bill Ray, father of Billy, who enters “pursued by a bear!”. He’s the dentist who wins Chelsea’s heart, as well as managing an honourable draw with Norman in a battle of words.
Direction was by Esther Matthews, and the play was yet another success for this old-established company. The only pity was that we couldn’t see the central character of the whole production-the lake, Golden Pond itself.
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