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Neighbourhood Watch (2014)
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Sat 6th September to Sat 13th September
Director – Pete Bagley
Production Photos
Martin Massie – Jon Elves
Hilda Massie – Cathryn Bowler
Luther Bradley – Andrew Tyrer
Magda Bradley – Natalie Harratt
Gareth Janner – Matt Baxter
Amy Janner – Natasha Reilly
Rod Trusser – Trev Clarke
Dorothy Doggett – Jean Firth
Stage Manager – Susan Schweitzer
Set Design – Pete Bagley
Lighting Design – Paul Harrison
Lighting Operator – Paul Harrison
Lighting Operator – Karl Stafford
Lighting Operator – Becky Cribdon
Sound Design – Dave Cornish
Sound Operator – Dave Cornish
Sound Operator – Paul Forey
Projection Operator – Paul Harrison
Projection Operator – Karl Stafford
Projection Operator – Becky Cribdon
Props & Set Dressing – Steph Stradling
Props & Set Dressing – Nikki Gabriel
Props & Set Dressing – Jonathan Rees
Props & Set Dressing – Sue Hadlum
Props & Set Dressing – Sue Hadlum
Props & Set Dressing – Sue Hadlum
Props & Set Dressing – Alex Martis
Props & Set Dressing – George Rippon
Wardrobe – Pam Coleman
Wardrobe – Anne-marie Greene
Wardrobe – Deb Relton-Elves
Wardrobe – Nancy Silvester
Wardrobe – Emma Padfield
Prompt – Shirley Jobson
Set Build & Paint – Simon Sharpe
Set Build & Paint – Judy Sharpe
Set Build & Paint – Lukasz Nowacki
Set Build & Paint – Terry Rahilly
Set Build & Paint – Terry Button
Set Build & Paint – Terry Cornwall
Set Build & Paint – Lisa Cornwall
Set Build & Paint – Jess Cornwall
Set Build & Paint – Izzy Cornwall
Set Build & Paint – Charlie Adams
Cateirng to the Crew – Judy Sharpe
Clarinet Musician – Sophie Hadlum
The Play

Brother and sister Martin and Hilda Massie live together, leading a quiet, Christian existence in the confines of the Bluebell Hill Development. Just as they are preparing for a housewarming gathering, their peace is shattered by a young trespasser in their garden. The Massies' neighbours congregate in their living room and together they agree to form a neighbourhood watch group to safeguard against further incidents. But after the Massies' beloved garden gnome Monty is thrown through their window, matters swiftly escalate, complicated by Martin's burgeoning romance with Amy, wife of Gareth, who was formerly involved with Luther, husband of Magda. What begins as a well-intentioned scheme for a safer community ends in violence and acrimony.

If they hadn't read the programme notes in advance, most members of the Criterion's audience on Saturday night would have assumed - as I did - that I was watching a classic Alan Ayckbourn play from the 1970s.
Even when the overhead projection read "present day" above the set of floral patterned wallpaper, I still didn't think I was viewing a social satire that was meant to be in the 21st century.
But to my total astonishment, the master playwright had only written Neighbourhood Watch in 2011.
There are some great Ayckbourn lines and the performances by Cathryn Bowler and Trev Clarke are tremendous - but I'm sorry this comedy is not the greatest example of a master at work.
It's vintage nostalgia that creaks.
Perhaps not surprisngly, highly experienced director Peter Bagley has used theme songs from Dixon of Dock Green and The Bill as a backdrop to the action and even thrown in a few period frocks and cardigans to add a little piquant charm.
It's a piece worth seeing if only for Cathryn Bowler's downturned mouth in her role as Hilda, sister to Martin (Jon Elves) as they move onto a new estate and work towards making it the moral and crime-free community they desire.
They are ably assisted in this by ex-military neighbour Rod (Trev Clarke) who corners most of the laughs, barking out staccato admonishments to build higher fences with razor wire and offering to send round the boys to sort-out less law-abiding residents.
Meanwhile Hilda and Martin slip from half military dress to full fatigues as they pick up the baton on not only crime but moral control, ably assisted by redundant local newspaper woman Dorothy (Jean Firth), oboe-playing Magda (Natalie Harratt) and overgrown boy scout (Gareth) Matt Baxter.
The team are set to clean-up the neighbourhood....until their glorious leader Martin is reduced to a gibbering wreck by the glorious arrival of Amy, handled with real style by Natasha Reilly.
Now she was one to watch.
But in such an old fashioned, peep-show, nudge-nudge elbow in the ribs kind of way that it was almost uncomfortable.
Neighbourhood Watch is Ayckbourn's 75th play. But definitely looks like one he prepared earlier.

Barbara Goulden
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