Entertaining Angels - by Richard Everett
13th, 14th, 15th June 2013

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Cast        Production Team
Grace Sylvia Zilesnick   Director Mary Lowe
Ruth Wendy Butler   Production Assistant Foster Barnett
Jo Sian Williams   Stage Manager David Stelfox
Sarah Camilla Steel   Properties Lindsay Swinson
Bardolph Roger Barker   Continuity Babs Oakley
  Costume Christine Eckley
  Set Design & Construction Stephen Radley
Lighting Design Terry Tew Sound & Light
  Sound Design Mary Lowe
  Sound/Lighting Operation Martin Howarth
  Programme Design Howard Platt
  Production Photos Howard Platt

Click here for the NODA crit for this play


What an impact when the curtains opened! It was a lovely set, very attractive and well constructed, with a beautiful arch at the centre back. The lower level set to one side was very pretty and with the arrangements of the seating, all the audience got a good view. There did seem to be a problem with entrances through the curtained entrance to pond area stage right. In a way it created a “mystery entrance” but some movement around it was awkward.

The play has a difficult opening scene with the telephone conversations and the actors following different lines of thought. It is always interesting to see how a playwright tells the back story and it was a while before the audience settled down and relaxed, which was after the characters’ relationships became established. There was also some speaking over the audience laughter from the jokes at the start and this needs to be avoided at all times.

So a bit of a tense and nervous opening but things soon settled down.Once into the play the conveying of information was well done, as the audience realised the various situations and characters. 

The casting was generally very good. Grace (Sylvia Zilesnick) managed a long and difficult part with expertise and created a good rapport with both her sister and daughter.

Ruth (Wendy Butler) was a good contrast to Grace in dress, manners and type – a believable and well managed relationship which all sisters will recognise 

Jo (Sian Williams) was a bit young for the part. It was difficult to believe she was married, going through a divorce and a therapist but she had excellent diction and force of character.

Bardy (Roger Barker) was excellent - the personification of the emollient vicar, smoothing over his emotions and coping with questions. His scenes with Grace well managed and exits and entrances carefully observed, very suitable for a spirit! 

The outsider – Sarah, the new vicar – was beautifully performed (Camilla Steel). She acted with surety and conveyed both comedy and serious dilemma, questioning her vocation and later coping with her pregnancy extremely well. The “bump” seemed more 7 hours than 7 weeks from due date, however.

As to the play itself, despite being billed as a comedy, it was really a mixture of comedy and seriousness, with themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Difficult to do but beautifully pulled off. The forgiveness scenes between both the sisters and Grace and Bardy were very moving.

I do realise the problems of an unfamiliar and complicated set, on which you would have had limited time to rehearse and which was not easy to negotiate, but the technical problems were well overcome and the audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Speaking of the set, I felt the lighting was spot on.

Two pieces of advice: Firstly, you must learn to wait for laughs from the audience before continuing. I do appreciate different audiences laugh at different things, or not at all, but speaking over laughter detracts from the performances. Secondly, have extra rehearsal time for openings of plays. In that way the performers can come on stage more confidently, particularly the opening night.

Setting these thoughts aside though, the play was an enormous success, greatly appreciated by your audience.

Sylvia Keith