THE Swan in Yeovil is rather like the Menier Chocolate factory in Southwark, London: a safe bet for high quality work; whatever they choose to produce, the standard of acting, direction and overall production value will be top-notch, and Disposing of the Body is no exception.
Written by Hugh Whitemore, whose work for television, stage and screen has including biographical studies of poet Stevie Smith and enigma code breaker Alan Turing, this play succeeds in making the ordinary lives of a middle-aged couple dramatic, humorous and very interesting. This is not so much a “whodunit” as a “wasanythingdun”, and the high standard of acting at the Swan kept a full capacity audience on the edge of their seats.
Brian Williams, as Henry Preece, was equally comfortable talking directly to the audience about model railways as he was talking about his sexual arousal, and was completely convincing in every emotion. As his wife Angela, Tricia Wood was a delightfully domesticated lady of the house, totally believable, which served to highlight the shock at a later twist in the plot. As their son Ben, Chris Williamson handled long monologues, some about neurological psychology, with an aptitude which belies his age, and showed his acting strength when Ben was let down by his father later in the play.
Dave King and Tanya Ogden, as neighbours Alexander and Joanna Barley, were required to show high levels of emotion, from rage and anger to sensitivity and love, and they both did so with exquisite stagecraft.
The two confrontations were handled well, with a real belief that harm was intended, especially between Henry and hotel manager Bassett, a cameo role played by William Scott-Robinson to great effect.
Andy Wood, as Detective Inspector Poole, was such a likeable cop, like a cross between Jonathan Miller and Richard Briers, and one whose views on life were refreshingly practical, and made so believable by this excellent actor.
What shone through this production however, simply set and furnished (from Ikea?) by Mike Robbins, with nothing on stage that was not used, and with authentic modern costume from Beryl Snadden, was the tight direction. Robert Graydon, stepping in to direct a play he had not chosen, due to the illness of the original director, kept this cast completely on the ball, with fantastic attention to detail, accurate cue-biting, and a wonderful choice of recent music, played loud and long, from artists including Regina Spektor and Kate Rusby.
This was perfectly executed theatre. If you can get a ticket, it’s on until the end of the week, and if not, go and see anything the Swan company produces – you will not be disappointed.
Monday 11th November 2013