Outsider triggers an emotional crescendo
Theatre Royal Bath
RUTH Jones, of Gavin & Stacey fame, leads a starry cast in the premiere of this new play by William Gaminara.
The playwright is also well known for his role as Leo Dalton in Silent Witness and for scripting episodes of The Archers.
The interior of a village hall sets the scene for The Nightingales. With its battered upright piano, stacking chairs, white lines on the floor denoting various sports and a kitchen that has seen better days, Jonathan Fensom’s excellent design is every village hall you have ever seen.
And in it we meet a community acapella group gathering for its weekly singing practice, all the while its members complaining about the hall’s previous users.
So far, so typical, but outside is lurking a newcomer to the village – Maggie, excellently played by Ruth Jones – who doesn’t want to be on the outside listening in but cosied up in the centre of this apparently harmonious group.
She enters smiling, trailing gifts of cake and goodwill, and soon ingratiates herself into the group. But it’s obvious from the outset that she’s a wrong ’un and her presence brings about discord.
When Maggie persuades the group to enter a talent contest the tension ramps up and individual desires and dissatisfactions bubble over. The comedy gets darker with rows over racial stereotyping, matters of trust, gender politics and even the ethics of sperm donation.
But it’s not until after the interval that you need to fasten your seatbelts for an emotional crescendo.
There are fine supporting performances from Steven Pacey as choirmaster Steven, Mary Stockley his wife Diane, Sarah Earnshaw as Connie, Philip McGinley her husband Ben, and Stefan Adegbola as Bruno.