Spring and Port Wine at Pleasance Theatre
To appreciate the delicacy of a small theatre production is almost a talent in itself when we are constantly presented with over-produced, over-the-top performance. The subtleties involved in taking a one-room set and a relatively tame script and turning it into something rather remarkable come down to the commitment and enthusiasm of the actors. The LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) came together to bring us the performance.
The family from Bill Naughton’s Spring and Port Wine have been recreated time and again in stories, books, TV, and theatre productions, in the sense that there is a major generation clash throughout the play. Naughton’s 1960s family – headed by Dad and cushioned by Mam – crosses the entire spectrum through adoring eldest daughter, wayward son, abrasive teen, and committed youngest son. In a model patriarchal home, the unit falls apart over some uneaten herring in a bittersweet story of the changing generations.
The lead performance from Adam Blampied playing Dad was both believable and coherent; his role in the house and his dismay at losing some of his authority as his brood grows up is an age-old family problem. Older son Wilfred (Jerome Thompson) ties the performance together with a constant run of humour conveyed in a way that appeals to those on both side of the argument, given his semi-adult status within the family unit.
All in all the whole performance was, I expect, executed in the way Naughton intended – though there were some more-than-noticeable slips in accents which detracted slightly in parts. Special regards must go to Jessica Baglow for her shining performance as long-suffering Mam, but Thompson as Wilfred definitely made the show – whether it was due to being cast in a fun part or because of his exceptional acting skills.