When taking on a Noel Coward classic there’s certain unwritten conventions that the audience will expect to see.
A Song at Twilight is one of Coward’s saddest plays. Written as part of his farewell trilogy – Suite in Three Keys (1966) – it’s the study of an ageing novelist who has founded his considerable success upon a life-lie.
I think from the moment the dulcet Sir Hugo Latymer (Paul Tutleman) makes his over-familiar aside to the handsome young waiter (Nick Lewis), we can guess what’s hidden in the secret pages of his private life.
It takes a hilariously-awkward dinner with his former lover Carlotta (a charismatic Holly Dempsey) to unearth that – sorry, spoiler alert – she possesses Hugo’s letters to the now-dead, male love of his life.
A play that is steeped in such controversial themes (at the time of its writing), you expect to a see very traditional portrayal of the piece, and, thankfully, we did.
The reason I prefer a traditional showing is because today most of the taboo subjects forming the storyline, such as gay and lesbian relationships, are accepted in society so a traditional version of the work serves as a reminder of days-gone-by when people would have to hide their most intimate feelings.
Coward’s play demands a lot from the small cast of some of Alnwick’s thespians.
The lengthy dialogue and sometimes unnerving themes would test even the most experienced amateur actor but, the whole ensemble works so well because they are so physically aware of the dialogue and movements of each speech.
It is very difficult to single out any one performance as each character brought something special to the play.
Paul Tutleman, a fairly new member of the club, played the frustrated and egotistical Hugo very well.
Considering he is much younger than the prescribed role, he managed to capture the traits of the ‘flustering oaf’ extremely well.
A new face, Holly Dempsey is also worthy of a mention. From the moment she stepped on stage, it was very clear that she could command and demand attention, not just on stage but through the fourth wall and into the audience.
The hope is that we will see more of this talent actress in future productions.
A final mention must go to Carol Lawrence, who gave a very powerful performance of the doting wife and gave a blistering of a monologue during the second half.
But congratulations is due all round.