SEE HOW THEY RUN!
by Philip King.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre Port-Na-Craig Pitlochry PH16 5DR In rep to 15 October 2011.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 01796 484626.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 August.
English escapism generally well-handled in the Perthshire hills.
Theatricality runs though this year’s Pitlochry season, with Arthur Pinero’s look-back at the reinvention of Victorian drama in Trelawny of the Wells, and Alan Ayckbourn’s Henceforward featuring an actor character who mentions (it’s in the script) that she’s played the wife in See How They Run.
Who, she says, is intelligent. That’s despite being lumbered with the name Penelope Toop, and her husband being the vicar. Indeed, Mrs Toop herself used to tread the boards. And now it’s wartime, bringing one of her old fellow-actors, Clive Winton, back in uniform.
He waved to her from a passing truck and she, without recognising him, waved back. That’s what’s upset Miss Skillon. That, and Penelope pre-empting the Skillon privilege of arranging the altar flowers for harvest-festival. And Penelope’s real crime, of marrying the young vicar Miss Skillon obviously had her eyes, and heart, set on.
What else? Well, there’s a visiting bishop (one of Penelope’s tribe), a visiting vicar, an escaped German prisoner with a gun, the local police. And Ida. The maid. Alongside Fred Broom’s admirably comic visiting preacher Mr Humphrey, who finds himself casually directing he knows not who in a chase about he knows not what, with sublime co-operation, Kate Quinnell’s Ida is the helpful, resourceful, besotted (with Penelope’s soldier) highlight of the show.
Darting about the stage, being innocently frank whether it’s in admitting her revenge on Miss Skillon or rescuing the whole situation at the end, or just being unceremoniously dumped outside the room to avoid her bringing an unwanted revelation, Quinnell is impressive in what is indeed a gift of a role – but a gift that still needs careful unwrapping.
Jacqueline Dutoit gives a blooming good performance as the hard-tongued woman disappointed in life, the butt of Philip King’s jokes and accidental receptor, twice over, of the violence in Penelope and Clive’s re-enactment of Private Lives and, under the unfamiliar influence of alcohol, revealing amounts of her voluminous underwear.
Very old-fashioned stuff, of course, but with director Richard Baron maintaining the pace and the cast mostly taking to the style a brief but pleasant Pitlochry evening.
Penelope Toop: Emma Odell.
Ida: Kate Quinnell.
Miss Skillon: Jacqueline Dutoit.
Rev Lionel Toop: Richard Delaney.
Lance-Corporal Clive Winton: Matthew Romain.
Intruder: Sam Pay.
Bishop of Lax: Charles Bell.
Rev Arthur Humphrey: Fred Broom.
Sergeant Towers: Robin Harvey Edwards.
Director: Richard Baron.
Designer/Costume: Adrian Rees.
Lighting: Ace McCarron.
Fight director: Raymond Short.
Associate lighting: Kate Bonney.