Vance season continues

PUBLISHED: 10:42 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:29 10 June 2010

THE 22nd Charles Vance Summer Play Festival at the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth, has reached mid-point of the season with the tense thriller Deadly Nightcap, by the master of the style Francis Durbridge, which plays until Wednesday, August 20.

THE 22nd Charles Vance Summer Play Festival at the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth, has reached mid-point of the season with the tense thriller Deadly Nightcap, by the master of the style Francis Durbridge, which plays until Wednesday, August 20.

Having been a staunch supporter of Sidmouth Summer Rep since 1979 with Ronald Gorey's Mercury Players and the Charles Vance Company, I am pleased to report that, so far, this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons in all those 30 years.

Part of the fascination lies in seeing members of the company playing different roles from week to week. Whilst I was joyfully watching Pip Bishop giving a super character performance as the sour, tweed-suited spinster Miss Skillon, in Philip King's '40's farce See how they run, she was rehearsing in the day for Derek Benfield's more modern comedy Bedside manners as a young married woman visiting an hotel for a naughty weekend.

Pip was effective as the good-looking Helen who lacked confidence. She caused well-deserved laughter with her sunglasses disguise (which caused her to bump into furniture) and her tendency to panic. In both plays her timing was impeccable.

After Saturday night's performance of Bedside Manners, Pip was off to learn her lines for the lead role of Sarah in Deadly Nightcap, in which she plays 'attractive, highly-strung' Sarah, a lady in her 40s whose husband is trying to kill her.

This year's company is exceptionally talented and extremely friendly, with a choice blend of experience and youth. As well as firmly established favourites James Pellow, Janette Froud, Jane Bennett, John Elnaugh and Janet Farrow, we have come to enjoy super performances by young actors - David Sengupta, Natalie Rowan, Matt Crosby, Ami Solomons and Teddy Corbett.

Super sets by Rob Sherwood, expert lighting design by Tony Hill, skilled stage management by Lauren Barclay, assisted by Poppy Corbett, and wise company management by Tricia Barclay all help to make up a fantastic team.

The next three plays in this popular programme are Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, Jack Popplewell's Busybody and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, which should make compulsive watching.

For further details and to book seats, ring Charles Vance box office manager Ellie Brooks, on (01395) 57977, or call in at the Manor Pavilion Theatre.

Roger Simmonds

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