October, 2012. Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer.
Death and the grieving process are unlikely subjects for mirth but Richard Everett’s comedy, Entertaining Angels, cleverly takes an irreverent swipe at gallows humour and pulls it off.
The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group opened its latest production on Thursday night to the delight of its first night audience. Entertaining Angels gives the company’s female performers the chance to flex their thespian muscles with a wry observational comedy that first found fame with Penelope Keith in the lead. Think Keith and you can imagine just what sort of a woman Grace Thomas is….
As a vicar’s long suffering wife she has become jealous of the third person involved in their marriage. She keeps a tally of the amount of tea she has made and cakes she has served while her saintly husband, Bardolph (Bardy) gives succour to the community. Grace wants her husband back. By the time she gets him to herself it is too late and she must converse with his spirit much to the consternation of her sister, Ruth
and her worried daughter, Jo.
As the play progresses it soon becomes clear that the dear reverend’s also may have slipped. There are lots of surprises, struggles with faith, and a continuous stream of witty one-liners that have you chuckling.
Strong roles for women are few and far between in the theatre so it’s refreshing to see four of the five roles in Entertaining Angels written for women.
LBDG veteran Barbara Springthorpe gives a compelling performance as the widow. Grace spends a lot of time looking exasperated and frustrated at how her life has turned out but Barbara struggles with her character’s simmering anger and righteous indignation.
Lorna Daggett holds the whole play together with a lively turn as the daughter while Randell Moll looks positively beneficent as the dear departed Bardy.
Newcomer Emma Stone is dazzling as the parish’s first female curate.
Mention must be made of the play’s set and congratulations to the company for raiding their gardens to dress the stage like an English country garden, complete with stream. I almost expected to see a frog hop from the undergrowth to make his entrance stage left.