It must be very heartwarming to find that the many weeks of hard work in preparation for your annual production is rewarded with a sell-out audience on all four nights. This was the enviable scenario for the Steventon Players and deservedly so. They have, year after year, entertained their audiences in great style and this year’s production was one of the very best yet. Charlie Palmer is to be congratulated on adapting Miss Austen’s much loved “Pride and Prejudice” to fit the many qualities of the multi-talented residents of Steventon. There was so much to enjoy from start to finish, and how quickly over two hours just flew by as we were transported, scene by scene, so effortlessly with some super dance sequences – how did they manage such a disciplined performance in the limited space? There was strong singing from the chorus with splendid arrangements and musical accompaniment in the very capable hands of Paul Wright.
Rachel and Phil Cheeseman deserve special praise for providing most believable scenery, charmingly realised through each and every scene and effectively lit by Tim Sennitt. Charlie Palmer and Phillip Sykes gave very strong performances in the roles of Mrs Bennet and Lady Catherine de Burgh – two formidable “ladies” who kept the audience on their toes with great fun – Dave Foster as the Rev Collins bore the brunt of their tongue bashing with great courage. Tony Fabian was a suitably hen pecked Mr Bennet, who, along with his five splendid daughters suffered Mrs Bennet’s eccentric and bossy behaviour with warmth and patience – and a lot of fun!
We were very humorously updated throughout the performance by Georgie Balmain in the guise of Jane Austen’s “ghost”, who, along with Lisa Atkinson in the role of “Mrs Overall” ensured that humour was present throughout the moment they opened their mouths. Phil Cheeseman as Mr Darcy provided the audience with what one might describe as a “marmite” moment – booed at the start and then loved by the end – and that “lake scene” was a splendid triumph for him and the Director, Marilyn Wright – who must have been delighted by the very warm response received, as the curtain came down. It was a very appreciative audience who went out into the cold February air filled with warmth and happiness on being royally entertained by this very talented team. My final recommendation is for prospective house hunters to buy a property in Steventon – you will never be bored living here and estate agents would be well advised to advertise any future properties that come up for sale in the village with the bold statement: “in the catchment area of Steventon Players”.