ABSENT FRIENDS-Review ****
Syston QT Theatre Group November 22-27 th 2022
Syston’s QT Theatre Group delivered a very creditable production of Alan Ayckbourn’s insightful play Absent Friends. Keeping it wisely in the time it was set, the audience laughed and cringed simultaneously,
whilst an afternoon tea party imploded into dysfunctional chaos.Set in Paul and Diana’s home, Colin an old friend who had been recently bereaved of his fiancée Carol in a drowning accident, had been invited for tea with old friends to cheer him up.
QT Players through the detailed and intelligent direction by Jude Latham performed Ayckbourn’s truly brilliant script well, generating laughter within an acutely embarrassing situation. Jude Latham ensured her cast delivered the pace needed, in this challenging play,
alongside awkward moments. Each character was developed to reveal fractures in their relationships and an absence in their own lives, apart from the bereaved Colin who appeared to be at his happiest.
Tom Westwood played the misogynistic Paul well, as he bullied his wife Diane with an alarming lack of empathy.
Kat Seddon, in turn, put in a superb portrayal as Diane in a measured, slow breakdown of despair. We truly felt for her as she shared her suspicions of Paul having an affair with the very person she believed was the ‘other woman’ Evelyn. Her yearning lament to join theCanadian Mounted Police when a young child was so well perceived that the audience were torn between laugher and tears.
Chewing gum, while she rocked the pram shielding her new born baby Wayne, Jo Woolaston played the monosyllabic Evelyn with a begrudging presence and a monosyllabic disdain of all around her, especially her husband John played by Jules Richards.
Jules used the small acting space well as he jittered about with nervous energy, currying favour with Paul whom he relied on for business.
Joanne Gallagher, as Marge, brought a hilarious energy to the stage as the chatty desperate- to- please Marge, friend and defender of Diane and a clear antipathy towards Evelyn. Her busy bodying disguised
her own emptiness in a childless marriage, with a surrogate baby in the form of her own obese, hypochondriac husband Gordon. Gordon,
although absent in body, fuelled the chaos as Marge tried to nurse him over the phone.
Colin, played with a bright- eyed obliviousness of the turmoil around him was a tour de force by Leigh White. His portrayal of Colin’s honesty and positivity only highlighted the misery in all the others’ lives in a brilliant demonstration of comic insensitivity.
So how could all this misery be a comedy? Through Ayckbourn’s perceptive observations of relationships of course, but it has to be delivered with truth, timing and tenacity and QT Players can be proud of achieving that.
Set in a small space, Louise Knowles has to
be mentioned for her attention to detail of the set design in true 1970s style.
Congratulations to Jude Latham the director, and her cast and crew. If this is anything to be going by-the next QT Players production promises to be a treat.
Reviewed By: Jane Miles
Last week I had the enormous pleasure of watching Syston QT Theatre Group perform my play Plan B. Ron Berry played the long suffering Richie. He brought a frustration and dryness which suited his character perfectly.
Erika Notman as the rather hostile Susan was excellent. Her timing was especially of note, giving long (yet not too long) pauses to add to the humour.
Gillian Bowler was flawless as Belinda. There is a hidden complexity to the role. Belinda appears dimwitted and foolish, however as the play progresses clues are given that Belinda may be wiser than she looks. Gillian captured this beautifully.
The mood of the play was judged very well. From the fast paced dialogue to the agonising pauses, Plan B is a rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows in just twenty minutes- this something that a director can easily misjudge. However Judith Latham understood this text well and was able to bring out the best of the play. This was a great performance, and one of the best Plan B performances I have seen worldwide. Well done to all involved
Reviewed By: Robert Scott, Plan B Playwright
Through this review, I hope to spread the word that am dram societies are always worth visiting. Mary and I went to see our local amateur theatre group, Syston QT's last night. We had a great evening and each and every character was so well sustained throughout. They performed (very well, indeed!) a very interesting and enjoyable psychological drama, "Resonant Frequency".
I did a show with them a few years ago and we have several friends, who are members of the group. Reading the biogs in the programme, I noticed that Russell Webster was performing only his second role with QT's, but he played with such energy and conviction and sustained an extremely credible Italian accent throughout. He is going to be in great demand for future roles with the group - of that there is no doubt!
Review by : Adam Jones,who is a regular visitor to our performances and whose wife, Mary, is a director with The Little Theatre in Leicester. We value their comments very much.
Well how lovely to be presented with an evening of laughter. Great script superbly done. Thank you and well done to everyone involved.
Reviewed By: Mary & Adam Jones, The Little Theatre
It's lovely to be back. Really enjoyed the play. Well done to all.
It's lovely to be back. Really enjoyed the play. Well done to all.
Very funny. Good acting.
Very good. We like comedy and this up-to-date theme. Good acting. We will be back.
We saw your latest production 'Chance Encounters' yesterday evening and had an extremely enjoyable time. Acting throughout was excellent and it would be remiss to single out specific performances but the 'bag lady' at the end was superb and finished off the production with a flourish. It was good to see new faces and the choice of play with all the little vignettes perfectly showed off many different talents, taking us through a range of emotions. Well done QT!
Reviewed By: Karen and Michael Crane
We saw the latest play " Murder by Default " on Tuesday evening and had a wonderful night.We had never been to a production before and we were very impressed with the acting, lighting and scenery.
We thought we had guessed ' who done it ' but were surprised with the twist. Was it him or her ? The script was quite challenging for an amateur group but they kept us guessing up to the end. We are really looking forward to their next production
Reviewed By: Barbara Sargeant
I went to see Chance Encounters last night, thoroughly enjoyed and impressed with everyone's performance, and good with all the new talent involved doing an excellent job! Well done everybody involved.
Reviewed By: Melvin Freestone
Absolutely outstanding. I was drawn into every scene and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Review by: Jo Gallagher
A huge thank you to the cast and crew for the production of my play. When i wrote the piece one of the motivations was to write a piece that used the most basic set,a table and two chairs and let the characters and their dialogue take the audience on a journey.
Gillian Bowler delivered a brilliant performance as Mother full of pathos and maternal love, a damaged child trying her best to be the perfect mother.
Russell Webster as Toni was a great surprise. I had always envisaged Toni as a visceral, angry man on the run but Russell's interpretation as a genial yet fiercely emotional man was a revelation. A fine example of letting your characters loose and seeing what they morph into.
Ron Berry had the job of tying the story lines together. Ron's performance throughout was that of an amiable grandparent, the sort grandchildren gravitate to because there are always sweets in the pockets. It is to Ron's credit that when the arrogance and sheer horror of Boffin's activities come to light Ron was not tempted to change to a foaming at the mouth rabid mad professor. Instead the mild mannered eccentric was just as terrifying.
Providing, arguably the most difficult performances, were Sally Portsmouth and Paul Puttnam both in the shared role of Host; the interrogators. Host collects information for a report to be passed up on the management chain. Host is the voice of reason, difficult to stand out opposite three strong characters and Sally and Paul provided a very credible pair of performances.
Full credit then to Mark Smith for directing an excellent production that will live with me for some time.
Review by: Ian Pauley, Resonant Frequency playwright
It was a fantastic performance, prompted some interesting discussion at the end. Very professional. Well done to everyone
Review by: Angela Whitton
Myself and a group of neighbours from Syston saw 'Resonant Frequency' last night and thoroughly enjoyed the play. Really made you think on many levels. Well done to all the cast all special in their different ways and to all that make the evening a success. We always marvel at how professional it all is.
We have enjoyed many productions you have staged and we have to admit that the comedies are always a success but it does no harm to stage the odd play that taxes the brain and makes you question what we are all doing here and every bodies different slants on life and what is right and wrong for them.
Anyway we say keep up the good work and we wait in anticipation for the next play
Review by: Susan Gask