The Nightin­gales

The­atre Royal, Bath

Bristol Post - - NEWS -

ON your first view­ing of Jonathan Fen­som’s vil­lage hall set you might ex­pect to be about to watch a pro­duc­tion of the sparkling 1980s Richard Har­ris play/mu­si­cal Step­ping Out.

There is a pi­ano, stacks of chairs, dodgy light bulbs and all the un­wanted rem­nants of ear­lier oc­cu­pa­tion by sweaty boy scouts.

But it is not would-be tap dancers who shuf­fle onto the stage in Christo­pher Lus­combe’s pro­duc­tion but singers – to be pre­cise a happy lit­tle five-piece acapella group ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing their weekly sing-a-long.

There are two mar­ried cou­ples – Cam­bridge ed­u­cated leader Steven and his des­per­ate-to-be-amother younger wife Diane to­gether with for­mer pro­fes­sional ten­nis player Ben and his ex­model part­ner Con­nie. Com­plet­ing the quin­tet is Bruno a young his­tory teacher. All is con­tent­ment un­til... along comes bub­bly new­comer Mag­gie who “just wants to lis­ten” and ev­ery­thing changes. Har­mony be­comes dis­cord as ini­tial friend­li­ness gives way to sus­pi­cion, com­pe­ti­tion and be­trayal.

Wil­liam Gam­i­nara’s cast of char­ac­ters in­ter­acts well to­gether but the ex­po­sure of in­di­vid­u­als is rather su­per­fi­cial.

The nar­ra­tive is al­ways in­ter­est­ing but rarely sur­pris­ing and the con­clu­sion ex­plo­sive but with­out shocks.

Ruth Jones is tan­ta­lis­ing as Mag­gie, clev­erly en­tic­ing you into her web and con­tin­u­ally leav­ing you un­sure whether you are with her or against her.

There is strong back-up, es­pe­cially from Steven Pacey as nearly-man Steven, Sarah Earn­shaw as the vo­cif­er­ous pushy Con­nie and Philip McGinley as a chip­per but ul­ti­mately en­dear­ing Ben.

The Nightin­gales, which is a The­atre Royal, Bath in-house pro­duc­tion, con­tin­ues un­til to­mor­row.

PHOTO: GERAINT LEWIS

Re­hearsals for The Nightin­gales – Philip McGinley, Ste­fan Adeg­bola, mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Luke Bate­man, Ruth Jones, Steven Pacey, Mary Stock­ley and Sarah Earn­shaw

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