Chris Avery reviews Theft

by Eric Chappell
performed by Waterbeach Community Players
directed by Vicky Green

Waterbeach Community Players once more produced an enjoyable evening with their latest offering of Theft by Eric Chappell. I thought it was a good script, with plenty of opportunity for the actors to enjoy their roles, especially that of Spriggs, which is a gift for any comic actor! Well done to Terry Betterman for managing to make all his outrageously opportunistic remarks, twisting the truth to his own advantage, perfectly believable.

He was ably supported by Chris Shinn as the burgled homeowner, John, who, we discovered, was not quite what he appeared to be; Suzanne Holland as Barbara, his embittered and disappointed wife with too great a fondness for the bottle; Paul Lockwood as Trevor, their friend and weekend guest, whose previously unquestioned trust of John was insidiously undermined by Spriggs - with good reason, as it turned out that Trevor's wife, Jenny, played by Wendy Croft, had been engaged for some time in a secret affair with John. All showed well the apparently confident and well integrated characters we saw at the beginning crumble into self-doubt and mutual recrimination as Spriggs cunningly undermined them.

Congratulations to Mark Easterfield for another very well executed Waterbeach set - I thought the style of the living room was appropriate to the piece and as always there was minute attention to detail. I did however, think the sofa could have been better placed as it formed a barrier which the cast sometimes found awkward to negotiate, as well as presenting the audience with a line of actors when three of them were sitting on it and the other two were placed on either side. Placing the sofa further upstage would also have given more opportunity for the actors to find more interesting angles, which would have varied the stage pictures.

One of the weak points in the script, I felt, was that the action called for four separate 'interviews' conducted by Spriggs with each character in turn. This can get repetitive for an audience and greater visual variety could have helped to make this section more interesting. The same was true of the cast's vocal range - more variety in their delivery would also have helped. However, these are relatively small criticisms and didn't by any means spoil my enjoyment.

Congratulations Vicki Green who took to directing for the first time. I'm sure she'll have gained much experience working on Theft. I do hope she'll go on to direct more plays in the future. Congratulations to all involved. I look forward to the next production.

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