In the Company of Men

Saturday, 26 October, 1996

Oldfield has just saved his company from a takeover bid by his enemy Hammond. His adopted son, Leonard, wants to have a place on the board but Oldfield refuses, saying he doesn't think he's ready yet. However the impatient Leonard, who is hungry for action goes behind his father's back and bails out another struggling company, so he can get the chairmanship. However Hammond , who still wants Oldfield's company has set a trap which results in Leonard owing Hammond millions of pounds. Hammond's ultimatum is that Leonard signs a form giving him 51 percent share of his father's company after he inherits it, otherwise he will bankrupt him.

This is a play with highs and lows. The first two scenes in the first act are mesmerising, I thought to myself what a great drama this is going to be. However, the last half hour of the first act went downhill fast. The story seemed to drift away and concentrate on Oldfield's servant who was booted out of the navy. It was all very dull and quite frankly seemed irrelevant to the story. So much so that quite a few people did not come back after the interval. Which is a shame because the pace stepped up again as the story got back to its main theme.

Karl Johnson who plays Oldfield is superb. He is most convincing as an old man who is fighting to hold on to his company as the pressure begins to take its toll. David Ryall also puts in a fine performance as Hammond.

It's an almost bare set, using only a couple of chairs and a table for most of the play, but it serves its purpose, with the plays strength coming from the acting.

Lasting over three and half hours it is far to long. Edward Bond, who also directs, could have cut out an awful lot of the non action in the middle of the play. Instead we have a lot of dull moments which spoil what had the potential to be a great drama.

(Darren Dalglish )

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