2014 - Family Spirit




This review is of the 2nd night performance (of 3) of the Russell Players “Family Spirit” at their ‘home’ -  the welcoming and intimate setting of the Parish Hall in Swallowfield.
The play opens in the lounge of elderly, arthritis-ridden Arthur Scrimmins, played by Chris Partridge who accurately captures the frustration caused by limited mobility and, who relies on Angie (Juliet Devon) for his every need.  The 1st scene ends with the demise of Arthur after he receives news of a premium bonds win and, cleverly enhanced by the excellent lighting, surrounding Arthur in a deathly grey.
When Arthur finds himself still present in his own lounge we are introduced to Arthur’s ‘guide’, Simone (Deni Smale), a ‘cherubic’ building inspector, adorned in hard hat and high-viz jacket who convinces Arthur he has died!  We’re introduced to Arthur’s daughter Sandra (Sheila Partington) and her partner Steve (Nigel Adams) when they arrive to commence the sale of Arthur’s house and, the presence of Arthur (in spirit) provides the cast with opportunity for quick-fire, ensemble acting, making the most of the comedic script. The arrival of the estate agent (Sarah Mapleston), clearly taken aback by the feuding relatives but un-phased by it, adds to the general ruckus.  This continues when she introduces a potential buyer, Sarah (Tricia Harris) who, when spooked by Arthur’s ‘spirited’ diversionary tactics, panics and takes flight. 
In Act 2 the sound effects are used very effectively to compliment the action on stage when Steve’s demise on the stairs is portrayed in the wings. Again, in the séance scene the lighting is used to great effect to cast Steve and Arthur in ghostly glow whilst the séance leader, Sarah introduced earlier as a potential buyer, portrays genuine fear amidst the chaos and poltergeist–like mayhem caused when the ‘special effect’s’ appearance of Joshua occurs.  The lighting, sound and set changes (moving pictures and furniture, swinging lights) during this sequence were especially effective.
High comedy and another professional production by the Russell Players!!!.

(Review of Russell Players presentation of “Family Spirit” (Pat Wollaston), Swallowfield 16th May)
Len Parkin