Review

Most of our reviews are re-printed with kind permission of the Knutsford Guardian

knutsford Little Theatre

London Suite

Knutsford Little Theatre start their new season with a play from one of the world's best loved playwrights. Neil Simon enjoys enormous popularity due to his witty observations on life and humanity and London Suite is a perfect example of the author's exceptional talent.

The play, in fact, consists of four unrelated scenes all taking place in the same suite of a London Hotel. Simon had previously used this formula to great effect in Plaza Suite and California Suite and one couple, Diana and Sidney from one of the earlier plays, return to update us on their lives.

The opening scene is 'Settling Accounts' in which Mike Wilding and John Smith manage to create quite a bit of tension between the laughs as a publisher faces one of his disgruntled writers. Both actors are very accomplished and hugely experienced which means that the audience is quickly drawn into the action and are able to settle down for the evening's entertainment. This is, of course, our first glimpse of a striking set. As all the action takes place in the same suite, KLT have been able to go to town on creating a very realistic looking luxury hotel scene. They have clearly put the additional time available to them over the summer break to good use and the list of names in the programme shows that this set is a real team effort.

Next we have a change of pace with the affectionate 'Going Home'. Tina Buckley makes a welcome return to the stage as a daughter setting her mother up on a date with the unseen Dennis on the final evening before their return flight to the USA. Jill Freeman, playing the mother with her usual grace, cannot be said to be thrilled at the prospect but her account of the evening's events when she returns much later than expected is one of the highlights of this production.

If you have seen California Suite, either on stage or the film starring Maggie Smith and Michael Caine, then you will remember 'Diana and Sidney.' She the famous actress who was in town to attend the Academy Awards and he the husband with no real interest in the entertainment industry. Well, some years have now passed, the couple are no longer together, her career has been in decline for a while now and he has some news that cannot wait. Real life husband and wife John and Joyce Smith play these roles beautifully and will have audiences laughing and crying in equal measure.

Neil Simon knows that any play needs a strong ending and is not above resorting to slapstick in order to leave the audience on a high. The physical comedy of 'Man on the Floor' delivers the laughs thick and fast and Sean Duvall, who is in his element with this sort of thing, is the perfect actor to play Mark, the man on the floor in question. Mike Wilding is back, this time as a doctor of questionable ability and he is joined by Mark's wife Annie, the hotel manager and the bellman all of whom do little to alleviate the situation.

As always at KLT the technical aspects of the production cannot be faulted. Hannah Green and Penny James together light the stage with a subtlety that is just right for a high class hotel and Kes Rowson blends the sound effects seamlessly into the action. A great start to an exciting season.

London Suite runs from 16th to 19th September at the Queen Street theatre. Doors open at 7pm with curtain up at 7.30pm. Tickets are £6 and may be obtained by calling the ticket secretary on 01565 873515.