by Douglas McFerran.
The Mill at Sonning Sonning Eye Reading RG4 6TY To 6 June 2015.
Tue-Sat 6.15pm (dinner) + 8.15pm (performance).
Mat Sat & 17, 31 May 12.15pm (lunch) + 2.15pm (performance).
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0118 969 8000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 9 May.
Less killing than joy as it turns out.
Max Bentley has a lot to keep up. As a popular screen actor, with the preserved good looks of the one-time matinee idol, he has the appropriate confidence, plus an expensive property (a near-Cotswolds mansion) and drinking habit to support. Yet financial ruin stares from the path ahead, the only way it can be staved off involving a longer-term surrender to his no-longer loving wife.
The crash can be heard approaching in news about American investment in his proposed forthcoming TV series as detective Killjoy. It’s delivered by a producer who offers anything but the Joy her name suggests. As the bad news floods in with each new entry, matched with a touch of absurdity the time it arrives with a police officer dressed off-duty for Morris dancing, the comic aspect of Douglas McFerran’s play pushed to the front like a fan in a crowd seeking an autograph.
Amid the quarrelling, the open venom of contempt is aimed at outsiders; by Sarah Berger as the wife who knows her husband’s ways too well at young Rosie, the interviewer who’d like to become Max’s biographer, and whose lusciously tempting approach Jessica Claire has undermined simply by a moment’s expression while alone at the start.
And at the workmen, unseen outside, who are, naturally these days, migrants and whose endeavours become instrumental to the plot. For it’s not just Joy who might be killed; this turns-out more a drama of attempted murder, successive events demanding increasing levels of invention from Max – something summed-up in the play’s final line.
From the start, a wall-cabinet of Max’s trophies provides a range of heavy blunt objects ready to hand for the attempted dispatching of the inconvenient by the desperate Max. Everyone in Ian McElhinney’s cast plays up to their part. Alongside Berger and Reed, Michael Lumsden has the sweeping authority of a life at the focus of the spotlight, Zoë Lister, coolly confident as she enters the room or sits with easy command, shows a producer’s knowledge about where power lies, and Simon Naylor brings a relaxed happiness to the character from outside Bentley’s circle.
Rosie Reed: Jessica Claire.
Max Bentley: Michael Lumsden.
Hermione Bentley: Sarah Berger.
Joy Pendleton: Zoë Lister.
Josh Vivian: Simon Naylor.
Director: Ian McElhinney.
Designer: Eileen Diss.
Lighting: Matthew Biss.
Costume: Jane Kidd.
Fight choreographer: Alison de Burgh.