DRIVING home from Salisbury on Saturday night we were thrilled to see a substantial flock of colourfully striped tigers on a field by Charnage Hill – that’s the power of art!
Lesley Bates’ production of John Finnemore’s A Flock of Tigers has already won Salisbury Studio Theatre awards for top play at both Totton and Codford festivals. Last week it came home for three performances, for visitors who also saw the partially-completed and much-needed extension to the Ashley Road HQ.
Finnemore, whose works including Cabin Pressure have won a tranche of Writers Guild and radio and comedy awards, created A Flock of Tigers for radio. It’s a keenly observed, multi-layered two-hander with two other none speaking parts and an announcer for additional stage authenticity.
Set in a smoking carriage of the train from London to Oxford in the 1930s, it brings together Edmund, a crusty and repressed businessman, and the invasive American Dolorosa. He’s cleared the carriage with his pipe smoke and supremely unwelcoming demeanor, but the stylish academic is having none of the stiffly hostile reception. She’s used to exchanging her life story with strangers, and she has all the weaponry to continue the practice.
Before the end of the journey she knows all she needs to about Edmund, from his lonely childhood to his tentative fatherhood. And he knows absolutely nothing about her, nor has the slightest suspicion that she knows about him.
Staging the play successfully requires two actors of huge skill and subtlety, and that’s what Rachel Fletcher and Paul Chalmers bring to Lesley Bates’ perfectly balanced and visualised production. It was a real treat and another example of the excellence of Studio Theatre.