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Neil Simon’s London Suite, first performed in 1994, consists of four short plays taking place in a hotel overlooking Hyde Park. The plays have a variety of styles: thriller, comedy, love story, farce.

Settling Accounts starts dramatically with Brian pushing his adviser and manager Billy into the room at gunpoint. He is understandably narked that Billy appears to have embezzled a large amount of his money. This was a strong performance from Neil Padgen as Brian; good stage presence and Welsh accent, well varied in pace and volume. Nick Card as Billy had a good range of facial expressions but an odd plummy accent and a performance that was totally over the top. I didn’t understand what director Ian Martin was aiming at here.

Going Home was a gentle two-hander between Emily Browne as Lauren and Ruth Tibbetts as her mother. I really enjoyed this play with strong acting and chemistry between them, giving a believable mother-daughter relationship.

Diana and Sidney was the most interesting of the four. Ageing actor and talk-show host Diana is waiting nervously to meet her ex-husband Sidney, who has come to ask for money to support his dying gay lover. This was a poignant story with twists; well acted, particularly by Sarah Enticknap as Diana, conveying her range of feelings extremely well. Neil Taylor was good too as Sydney and right for the part (but do think what to do with your arms). Elizabeth Hewett had a small part as Diana’s PA.

The Man on the Floor was an amusing one to finish with. Mark and Annie have flown in with tickets for Wimbledon, which they have lost. Mark and others end up on the floor, in pain or unconscious. Andrew Smith was excellent as Mark, with the best American accent of the night. There was fine support from Emma Morrisen as Annie and Maureen Prince with a nice Irish accent as Dr McMerlen, with cameo parts for Polly Emberlain and Mike Brook. This was a funny play, but as a farce it needed to be slicker.

A well-matched set of plays with some good acting from Newbury Dramatic Society.

Click for original article on Newbury Theatre Website

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