Wednesday, 4 May 2016

"Benefactors" by Michael Frayn.
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.

Benefactors is set in the 1960s and concerns an idealistic architect David and his wife Jane and their relationship with the cynical Colin and his wife Sheila.

David is attempting to build some new homes to replace the slum housing of Basuto Road and is gradually forced by circumstances into building skyscrapers despite his initial aversion to these. Sheila becomes his secretary but is she helping him or the other way around?

Written in 1984 it was the recipient of the Laurence Olivier Award for the Best New Play for that year, but does the play stand up over 30 years later?

For me, it didn't and it's no "Noises Off", which is the play Michael Frayn is known for. It's a very different kettle of fish as this play, although I found plenty to smile about, the comedy seems to be written in quite ad hoc, whereas "Noises off" was an out and out comedy farce.

"Benefactors" is a very wordy play about a fairly serious subject and the cast do a sterling job with a good sense of timing which makes for a fast paced presentation.

Trev Clarke and Clare Choubey play the Kitzingers, David and Jane. This couple are a true couple and by that I mean that they are wholly believable because they argue and shout but they stick by each other throughout.

Dawn Price and Robert Chilton play the Molyneuxs, Sheila and Colin. They are the couple who at first seem to be the solid couple but turn out to be very different by the end of the play.

There are some very good character roles played out by all four and you find yourself having the biggest sympathy for Sheila, whose confidence grows and grows in the second act. A nice "grower" of a role for Dawn.

All four actors presented their characters with great strength but for me I didn't feel the story was a strong enough one, but this is only my opinion, Maybe I was spoiled with Frayn's "Noises Off" which I absolutely loved to bits,

A tribute to director Marcus Wakely, Trev, Clare, Dawn and Robert though for bringing out the comedy in the play and especially for dealing with the wordy script, which did make for an interesting aural experience.

"Benefactors" is on at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 7 May 2016 in the studio theatre upstairs.

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