And a Little Love Besides - by Alan Plater  
15th, 16th, 17th January 2009

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Cast        Production Team
Reverend Carter Andrew Rogers   Director Lisa Maule
Mrs Hennessy Jean Grover   Production Assistant Cathy Lawrence
Amy Sophie Robertson   Stage Manager Jean Cooper
Briggs Howard Platt   Assistant Stage Manager Dan Cooper
Mitchell Martin Howarth   Properties Wendy Butler
Hennessy Roger Barker   Assistant Properties Lizzie Lynch
Mrs Carter Marilyn Sovitch   Continuity Cathy Lawrence
Linda Laura Wheadon   Costume Christine Eckley
      Set Design & Construction Stephen Radley
      Lighting Design Terry Tew
      Sound Design Lisa Maule
      Sound/Lighting Operation Lucy Parkin
      Programme Design Howard Platt
      Production Photos Howard Platt

Review by Sylvia Keith

I went to the play on the first night not knowing the piece at all. The opening therefore came as a shock with the strong singing of the hymn that became the refrain running through the piece, becoming more ironic as we learned more of the characters and their various attitudes to the Christian message.

The new vicar, played very effectively by Andrew Rogers, believes in loving and forgiving to an extent that his parishioners find difficult to understand; it was not the way their old vicar would have behaved and the suggestion that the small incident that so appals them can be treated lightly and that Briggs should not be punished severely for his lapse, leaves them shocked and amazed. 

The part of Rev. Carter is huge but it was played with great surety and sympathy with no lapse in the pace and variety of tone that made the character by turns funny and moving. It was truly a tour de force and the other players reacted splendidly to the challenge. All of them were very well cast and made the most of the situations they were in; Mrs Hennessy (Jean Grover) with her splendid hats, very well sustained accent and small minded inability to appreciate the vicarís appeals for tolerance, was well supported by her husband, played by Roger Barker, who put aside his usual urbanity and gave us a well observed picture of a business man who thinks he understands about the world and its ways; Amy, the student (Sophie Robertson), would support this attractive vicar no matter what he did, her schoolgirl crush was excellently conveyed as was the naivety of Briggs (Howard Platt), offered a gesture of sympathy by a young woman who realised his lack of experience and who paid a terrible price for his lapse at the hands of the very people who constituted his world. The other parishioner who makes up this committee, Mitchell (Martin Howarth), conveyed his tension and stress even in his back view and spoke and moved very well in character. The vicarís wife (Marilyn Sovitch), the odd one out, a self-confessed atheist and supporter of causes was also excellent; I enjoyed her amused reactions to this bunch of so-called Christians. I was agog to see the terrible Linda (Laura Wheadon) with whom Briggs misbehaved and when she came she was effective and gave off just the right mixture of sensuality and innocence. 

The difficulties of staging in the round were well handled, I was only rarely aware of not being able to see expressions at vital moments and the entrances in the hall were effectively used, as were the lighting spots for moments when the players came out of the action. The pace was well maintained and the action flowed. 

The audience laughed at the comedy, but there was a pleasing hush at the scene where the vicar points out the minor nature of his crime to Briggs and we see the tragedy of a simple man caught by the forces of small town prejudice and mindless cruelty. That was a scene so well done and of course central to the play. 

A friend of mine who happened to be a vicarís wife left laughing grimly and admitting it was true! Well done LADS, this was a triumph.