Keeping Our End Up

By Mark Carey

Dir Michael Rolfe

The Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa

Review by Nick Le Mesurier

In these dark days we need some light relief, something that satisfies the heart and head without being overly fatuous or cynical. We have it in the Loft’s production of Mark Carey’s new play, Keeping Our End Up.

In the village of Longfield Bishop things are not quite what they seem. The ladies’ bowling club is as much a part of the establishment as the church or the pub. But as the ladies reveal the truths behind their apparently harmonious lives we see the tragedies as well as the comedy that makes them what they are.

Five fine actresses make up a strong cast that is brim full of character. Centre stage is Ruth MacCallum as Ursula Fewings. She acts as narrator, shining a little light into dark corners. Head of the team is Ronnie Palmer (Sue Moore), former magistrate who is losing her memory, slightly. Sam Harris plays Jan Broomfield, over-keen young school teacher obsessed by ‘Urnie’, her tea urn. Lesley Wilcox plays Fee McGregor, who works in a solicitor’s office and suffers an abusive husband. Especially poignant is Wendy Morris’s portrayal of Joan Right, dinner lady, whose daughter died in an accident some years ago and who has felt herself judged by the village and by Ronnie, who presided over the enquiry, ever since. Her caustic wit is the grit in the oyster.

Keeping Our End Up neatly balances a sentimental vision of England with some very believable and often tragic stories. It’s the stuff of soap opera, here rendered as beautiful as an English summer evening. The audience reacted with long and loud applause, as this play well deserved.

Nick Le Mesurier

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