CAMP production ‘When we are married’ – WMN review

Nov 26, 2013

“The classic J B Priestley comedy will complete a successful autumn run with performances at the very eastern and western ends of Cornwall this week.

Smug in their successful lives, the men bluster over port and cigars while their wives perch on the sofa like three contented hens, at ease with life and their elevated status. Nothing could possibly alter their blissful situation. Or could it?Right from the word go the characters are quickly defined, a sign of a great cast well into their stride, and Chloe Carrubba starts the comic ball rolling with a sparkling performance as the maid Ruby, bemused by the chaos that ensues when the local organist, played by Barnaby Lanyon-Jones, in fine languid form, reveals that the marital bliss enjoyed by the three couples may be a sham as the vicar who married them wasn’t licensed to do so.Staged by Menheniot-based Camp Theatre, When We Are Married takes place in a neat, Edwardian parlour where three couples are celebrating their joint twenty fifth wedding anniversaries: all married on the same day, in the same chapel, by the same vicar.The scene is set then for a tale of twists and turns, moral indignation and plenty of cutting jibes all aimed at Priestley’s favourite target, the conceited middle classes.”

“Taking on the roles of the posturing husbands, Steve Jefferies, who also pulls together a tight production as director, hits the mark as the annoyingly tedious Albert Parker pointing all his North Yorkshire brusqueness – in which everything down south is a all a bit “la de da” – at his simpering wife Annie, delicately played by Penny Prisk.

Kevin Kibbey takes the role of Alderman Helliwell by the horns and portrays a self-satisfied pillar of society to perfection, while Glenda Ellis playing his wife Maria vividly depicts the muddle and hysteria that her character descends into on hearing she may not be as morally upright as she thought. Anthony Jackson in the role of Herbert Soppitt, the worm that eventually turns, is the ideal foil to Ruth James who gives a knockout performance as his unbelievably overbearing spouse Clara.

As the characters come to terms with their dilemma and with it the realisation they have suddenly become single, Priestly cleverly gets them to question their relationships over the past 25 years, bringing with it plenty of opportunities for fragile egos and unfulfilled lives to be hilariously laid bare.

On the periphery of all the mayhem, Phil Joyce in the role of Henry Ormondroyd almost steals the show with a pitch perfect performance as the drunken photographer, with Trish Conbeer putting in a great tongue-in-cheek turn as the “other” woman.

No period comedy would be compete without the eavesdropping charwoman and Jenny Slatter, as Mrs Northrop, relishes every venomous line, while Anna-Marie Fox as Nancy the alderman’s niece along with David Kinnair as the local news reporter and Andrew Mullen as the obligatory flustered vicar give flawless support.

Although the script ties up the loose ends almost too quickly and predictably, the cast keep up the snappy pace to the end, nicely bringing out all the duplicity and arrogance attributed to the upper and middle classes of the period that may not be too far from the truth even today.

When We Are Married is at The Poly in Falmouth on Thursday and Downderry and Kingsand Working Men’s Club and Village Hall on Friday.”