CUPPERS: Hands Across the Sea (Trinity)

Fri 11th – Sat 12th November 2011

reviews

Daniel Rey

at 00:01 on 12th Nov 2011

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Hands Across the Sea was a hugely entertaining and well thought out production, relating the struggles of an 1930’s aristocratic family as they lose all recollection of when, where and how they met their guests. Not only are their memories hap-hazard, but so too are their manners and hospitality; the well-to-do couple barging their guests out of the way and half-talking to them whilst arranging other social engagements on the telephone. Its success was based largely on the three excellent female performances.

In the lead role Lucinda Smart as Piggie, the confused wife, was particularly strong, revelling in the absurdity of her role and doing so with aplomb. Similarly, Livi Cundy as Clare suitably conveyed the superficiality of society gatherings and the utmost disrespect for newcomers, particularly those from the East, a region whose geography the hosts try and fail to demonstrate knowledge of. Howard Coase playing Piggie’s spouse Peter had some strong moments and improved as the play went on, ably conveying his irritation at having to make a fool out of himself in order to save his wife’s bacon. Priya Manwaring was charming and courteous as Mrs Wadhurst, and it is the attempt to discover her and her husband’s identity, without being so un-English and rude as to ask them, that underpinned the play’s hilarity.

Aided by a good script, Trinity made the most of the many humorous elements, whilst backing the writing up with quick scene changes and an excellent set. A slight downside, and perhaps suggestive of an omission in the planning was that it was not a play that was ever going to make the most of the BT’s intimate setting, and would have been far more suited to a larger venue. To their credit however, they made the best of it, with characters practically falling over each other at various points. Another issue was that with many actors on stage at once, concentration levels sometimes dropped when they were not speaking. If the team had got around these challenges then it would have been an even more impressive Cuppers entry. That being so, the half an hour raced by, and the play left the audience and the reviewer wanting plenty more.

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