'On Golden Pond' by Ernest Thompson showing at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham.
11th -16th February 2013
Review by Phil Lowe
The emotional ripples on this gentle American play about age, family expectations, recriminations and blinkered intolerance are, in the main, a genial wave lapping on the shore of US life with a few bugs thrown flying in to irritate when the waters threaten to become too placid.
A retired couple, Norman Thayer Jr and his wife Ethel Thayer (exquisitely under played by Geoff Longbottom and Carol Parkinson) arrive at their summer home at Golden Pond in Maine and their banter is that of an old pair of talking comfy slippers. Excepting that Norman, the left slipper, has lost its way slightly and is now shuffling in a daze of shifting memories and what it has to say isn't always palatable to the family. He is convinced he is going die within a year.
Norman is soon to be eighty but doesn't want to recognise it nor the fact that his estranged daughter Chelsea Thayer Wayne (Helen Sharp) and her new dentist partner Bill (Kevin Briffett) are soon to be arriving at the house for his celebration. Along with them comes Bill's thirteen year old son Billy (a terrifically mature and still performance from Alec Boaden) who not only rocks the proverbial boat in the family arrangement but becomes a central force in healing the family unit.
The whole piece is gently humorous and surprisingly touching throughout especially in the scenes that challenge the matriarch's slightly bullying and condescending attitudes. Kevin Briffett's assured handing of the scene when the dentist gets his metaphorical teeth into the future father-in-law and the scene when Helen Sharp playing the damaged daughter attempts to make peace with her father who she calls 'Norman' not Pop or Dad, are very well handled.
The role of Charlie Martin is superbly played by Andy Taylor. He is the local postman with a romantic history linked to Chelsea and Andy Taylor practically glows with energy as the simple minded local guy who laughs at most things in life even if it is not politic to do so.
The whole cast have a real feeling of 'family' about them as they move around the wonderful realistic set designed by Peter Hillier. I felt that the solid looking summer home had a life beyond its physical structure, that somewhere on the horizon was the Golden Pond and it's mating loons mirroring the past life of the Thayer family. Beautifully directed by Marcus Wakely.
11th Feb 2013