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A Night Out

Hampton Wick is the sort of place where you notice strangers - especially when they are pretty and friendly - and standing next to you in the queue to buy stamps at the one man post office.

I'm glad I met Clare Beasley that way, because when I saw her again, on the stage of the Rose & Crown Theatre, she only had four lines (spoken beautifully) but I had to share them with the rest of the audience. In common with many young people today Clare has got attitude and, a few weeks after finishing drama school, you know that she'll make it in the big bad world of theatre.

Her offstage attitude served as a relevant counterpoint to the characters in Harold Pinter's revived play A Night Out which was originally produced, in 1960, as a radio play and later, as a TV screenplay. Things were very different then.

Pinter didn't seem to be convinced about the subject matter - it's a short sharp dose of attitudinal nostalgia, in a seventy minute script, conceived and adapted for the stage by it's young director, Stuart Mullins. The playbill describes the work as The Professional Fringe Premiere of Pinter's 1960 Satire.

Say no more my son.

The central characters are Albert (Nigel Adams) and his widowed mother Mrs Stokes (Lacey Baxter). Albert, despite having a responsible job, is totally dominated by his mother who uses every form of emotional blackmail and coercion,to subjugate her wimpish son to her will.

I suppose Pinter knew his onions portraying Mrs Stokes that way. If she had been my mother, I wouldn't be writing this review now, I'd be in the nick - for justifiable manslaughter. A fine piece of acting.

Poor Albert is surrounded by whacky characters like Kedge (Adam Ross), Seeley (James Hyland) and (Gidney) Philip Teubler, who want him to get into their mainstream, of mediocrity, and give it some welly. We are persuaded that nothing will energise our catatonic catnapper - not even, at his employer's wingding, his lightly clad and seductivecolleagues Joyce (Lynne Wills) and Eileen (Fiona Carnegie). It's my belief that my new friend Betty (Clare Beasley) might have done the trick, but she was romping in the bushes with the more enterprising Kedge.

Nothing wakes a slumbering giant like injustice. Albert, the chaste, innocent, mother's boy - at the party thrown by Mr King (Barry Rocard) - is accused (totally erroneously) of goosing a female guest. It is the seed of a towering ascendence which creates the strong focal point of the play.

In his misery Albert meets The Girl (Mary Rider) who takes him through her own fantasies in a fine piece of acting. She has a gem of a role, and with Albert, takes the plot to another gratifyingly high level, but don't take my word for it. See it yourself.

Hampton Wick is actually near everywhere - and this is a fringe theatre which you'll hear more about, if I have my way.

Be prepared to see the emergence of the dragon lady, Mrs Stokes, before the final curtain. If Henry Vlll had been there last night, he'd have shipped her down the Thames, like Anne Boleyn, and shortened her neck.

I'm too kind.

(John Timperley)

Originally published on

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