Living Together

Living Together Rating

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Celebrating its 75th year in community theatre, St. Jude’s Players present a lively rendition of “Living Together”, the second play in Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s renowned trilogy, “The Norman Conquests”. Directed by Les Zetlein, who, with four decades of dedication to St Jude’s community, offers a delightful escape into the quirky world of 1970s England.

Upon entering the theatre, audiences are greeted by a meticulously crafted set courtesy of the multi-talented Don Oakley. Oakley’s expertise shines through as he transports us to a cozy English living room, complete with all the nostalgic touches of the era. A dedicated team have ensured that every element of the production is seamless and authentic.

At the heart of the story is Norman, portrayed by Simon Lancione, whose antics set the stage for a weekend of chaos and comedy. Despite his moral shortcomings, Norman possesses a charismatic charm that allows him to manipulate and charm those around him, particularly the women in his life. Lancione, as Norman, is both witty and pervasive, often managing to avoid the consequences of his actions through his quick thinking and silver tongue.

Norman’s role in the trilogy is multifaceted. He serves as a catalyst for much of the conflict and chaos that unfolds, driving the plot forward with his reckless behaviour and romantic entanglements. At the same time, he is also a deeply human character, grappling with his own insecurities and desires beneath his charming facade.

Rebecca Butler shines as Ruth, Norman’s long-suffering wife, capturing her character’s mix of disgust, frustration, and eventual resignation. Adrian Heness brings humour and a very expressive character to the role of board-game inventor Reg, opposite Rose Harvey’s sharp-tongued portrayal of his wife, Sarah. Larry Waller’s portrayal of the harmless neighbourhood vet, Tom, adds a touch of dim-witted charm to the ensemble, while Carla Hardie delivers a compelling performance as Annie, the troubled sister burdened with the care of their mother, seeking a little excitement and distraction from her otherwise dull life.

The cast has great chemistry, with each member skilfully supporting each of their fellow actors to deliver a fast-paced, layered performance filled with comic timing. The result is a performance full absurdity, as the characters navigate through a weekend filled with unexpected twists and turns.

While the cast’s performances are commendable, the plotline may feel somewhat dated, with all three women seemingly revolving around Norman, whose flaws are glaringly apparent. Despite this, the production offers an engaging exploration of family dynamics and interpersonal relationships.

With its high production values and talented cast, St. Jude’s Players once again prove their commitment to delivering quality theatre and the audience laughed in all the right places creating an appreciative and warm atmosphere.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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