'An Inspector Calls' - The Cheriton Players, Cheriton Village Hall, Thursday 5th December 2013.
The fact that the Cheriton Players' production of 'An Inspector Calls' sold out more than 3 weeks in advance of curtain up is testament to the hard work that the society puts in to every production.
The Players themselves describe it as: "A fantastic situation to be in... showing they have a growing, loyal audience."
Because of its moral content, the play is well-known to many people who have studied it at school. In simple terms, an entire family is involved in the mysterious demise of someone else through various means. It's very cleverly written. Yes, if you haven't seen it, you can probably guess the ending well before the actual ending.
But, as the Inspector - David Cradduck - told me, because of the play being so well-known, they simply have to be word perfect. He is, of course - you would expect nothing less!
Yes, the play is a 'classic' and many people want to see it - but you still have to deliver. And boy, did the Players deliver!
Mike Cornter (Arthur Birling) shows yet again that these kind of parts were written especially for him many years ago!
I simply cannot believe that Jules Anderson has only been acting since 2007 (and then after being press ganged into taking a small part) - as this is the finest I have seen him. As Gerald Croft, he has the chance to reflect on his own errors. He was dominant near the front of the stage for a significant amount of time; he gazes into the distance, trying to explain away his actions. Such was the attention on him, I swear you could have heard a pin drop in Alresford.
On the night I attended, I was aware that Tracey Anderson (Sheila Birling) was not well. Had I not known, I would not have realised; she showed her usual bright personality which always seems to shine through.
However, by the Friday, Tracey had to pull out altogether. Step forward Rebecca Leadley - who's only just joined the Players! By all accounts, she proved that in a crisis, the show goes on. With 45 minutes' notice!
Credit too to Charlie Hellard and Helena Gomm who make up the rest of the family as Eric and Sybil - Eric who seems to love the bottle, and Sybil who ends up in complete despair and disbelief at what's going on around her.
There aren't any set changes; we are all transported just to the dining room of a house in the North Midlands in 1912. The backstage crew could therefore take their time in creating something that looked beautiful. The set is a credit to the design and construction team. As are the costumes - simply beautiful, accompanied by plenty of sparkling jewellery!
Pauline Cornter's direction is well-paced, and brings the best out of everyone.
A triumph then, in more ways than one. I loved it. Congratulations and 5 stars. KG