Sold out in advance, ‘Still Life’ was a smash hit!

Part of Lympstone’s Avocet Line celebrations, the sound of trains passing through the Village Hall nostalgically evoked the romance of the Steam Age, as did the authentic buffet bar, stacked with comestibles of the time (1936). But Noel Coward’s play, later adapted for the classic film ‘Brief Encounter’, is far more than a period piece. Its enduring attraction comes from his meticulous dissection of the moral complexities and ambiguities of intimate relationships outside marriage. Two people are torn between love and loyalty, passion and commitment – and ultimately torn apart. This struggle is the heart of the play. Mature and finely nuanced performances by Lucy McCance and Tim Jupp drew us in from their first awkward intimacy to the final, anguished end, where the gossiping lady friend – cleverly played by Grace Packman – unwittingly ratchets up the agony.

The drama is relieved by the banter of the station staff and other customers as ordinary lives go on regardless – with their own share of laughter and sadness. Ben and Heather Redding gave the confident well characterised performances we have come to expect from them; Julia Billington excelled with another example of fine charactor acting. They were supported well by Dawn Chapman, Bruce Ellis, Barrie Bisset and Chris Barnacle. Director Harland Walshaw’s innovative staging on the floor of the hall with tiered rows of seats round three sides was just what the play needed. This, together with the sensitive fusion of light, sound and music, ensured that we felt fully involved in its intimacy and intensity. The well chosen period costumes added further to our enjoyment.

The Players have set the bar at a new high for their next production! Nearly everyone opted to have the buffet supper provided by Shirley Wilkes and her team, which, as ever, helped to round off the evening in style!

Clive Wilson