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Enchanted April

Feeling lost in the shadows of marriage and forgotten in the rush of 1920s post-war society, two London housewives pool their savings to rent a villa in Italy for a ladies-only holiday away, reluctantly recruiting a pair of difficult upper-class women to share the cost and the experience. Together under the Mediterranean sun, the four women clash — and then begin to bond and bloom — until men once again upset the balance.


11 - 13th May 2023


Matthew Barber


Toni Conyers



National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region

Society  :  Parish Players

Production :  Enchanted April

Date  :  12th May 2023

Venue : St Mary’s Parish Hall, Merton

Report by : Phil Wilcox

Show Report

From the narrator's tricky opening speech (a beautifully sustained, perfectly audible performance from Tash Rewrie) onwards, it was apparent that this production was going to be something special.

Your sets (designed by John Wood and Sally Hopkins and built by a talented 13-strong team), could not be faulted.

Similarly, lighting (well done, designer, builder and operator Andy Wood) and sound (under designer Nick Roberts and operator Sebastian Roberts) - ranging from thunder and rain effects to church bells.

Costumes (brilliantly designed and made by Caryl Court and Fran Baxter) were well researched and perfectly in period. Plaudits should perhaps also go to dressing room assistants Angela Kinsella and Debbie Webb.

The all-important spot-on props (Ingrid Holtz) included an appropriate newspaper and an exquisite tea set, not forgetting the walnuts! Linking music was also well selected.

I had not come across this play (skilfully and imaginatively directed by Toni Conyers) before, but found the style of the first act, consisting of a series of short scenes, particularly effective.

At one point, there was neat use of a split set, with the two husband and wife couples reacting to dialogue spoken on the other side, and also freezing. Nice touch.

The five contrasting households were cleverly portrayed by some slick movement of, say, a hatstand, from stage right to stage left, and alteration of framed pictures by the extremely capable stage crew led by Ingrid.

They also managed, by the simple device of covering the central mantelpiece and adding a crucifix, to transform it into an altar for a scene in a church.

Similarly, in the final scene in the first act, neat use of props created a realistic train, complete with whistle and puffing sounds.

As for the actors, Tash demonstrated her professionalism throughout the production, waiting a beat for laughs and picking up cues quickly, before coming full circle in her final speech. A stellar performance.

Playing Rose, Emily Smith acted impeccably opposite her. Caroline Chick, as Caroline Bramble, put her part over well, after her tricky entry line and was fun to watch - at one stage leaning nonchalantly on the proscenium arch.

Maggi Chick (Mrs Graves) plunged straight into her convincing characterisation, making good use of the fourth wall.

Lotty and Rose's respective spouses, Mellersh (Paul Mannix,proving an effective foil to her) and Frederick (the incomparable Nick Roberts) were well-cast, demonstrating plenty of light and shade. Ben Miles, as the handsome artist Anthony, gave an engaging and stylish portrayal.

As one of the actors said at the end of Act 1: "Whatever we've done, we've done it!".

I, and I suspect, the audience, truly wanted to find out more.

During the interval, your top notch backstage crew had been hard at work. The tabs opened for Act 2 to reveal an entire Italian terrace, complete with copious blossoms and bathed in sunlight. Truly stunning!

Anne Carroll as the language-mangling Constanza got her fair share of laughs thanks to her good timing.

I thought the business with Mellersh and his towel was hilarious, put over brilliantly by Paul, who earned a well-deserved round as he exited.

I only have two minor quibbles. Firstly, some plainly empty suitcases in use when meant to be full. Secondly, it was a tad unfortunate when Anthony was painting that, owing to the position of the lighting, it could plainly be seen that his side of the canvas was blank. Small details...

This was a thoroughly enjoyable ensemble piece.

The best I can do is quote from the "Italian Translations" featured in your simple but well-designed and informative programme (Toby Conyers).

Meraviglioso! (Marvellous)!

Thank you for inviting me and making me feel welcome.

Phil Wilcox   NODA London Region 5 Representative

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