Thark at the Park Theatre
Slow in story development but utterly engaging in presentation and performance, Eleanor Rhode’s Thark by Ben Travers (adapted by Clive Francis) is authentically British and promises hilarity in an entertaining evening out at Park Theatre in North London.
When Sir Hector Benbow attempts to court young shop girl Cherry Buck, his plans are postponed with the unexpected arrival of his wife Lady Benbow. In an effort to hide his intended indiscretion, Hector enlists the help of his nephew Ronny to distract the beautiful blonde. But in a whirlwind of miscommunication and dishonesty, this eccentric group of characters head to the family home, Thark, to investigate rumours of a haunting and prove their courage and devotion.
Driven by quick-witted dialogue and the dedication of the actors, the cast come together magnetically to deliver this well-timed, exuberant comedy. Francis and James Dutton are lively as mischievous leading duo Hector and Ronny. Their chemistry creates a warm dynamic and although they are up to no good, you root for them nonetheless, hoping they don’t get caught in their web of lies. Mary Keegan as Lady Benbow is commanding and authoritative; the deep, stern pitch of her voice rings in your ears as she calls to her husband, questioning his peculiar behaviour and demanding the truth. She convincingly depicts a strong female character, oblivious to little and the true head of the household.
Costumes are rich in detail and indicative of the position of each individual. In addition to the simplistic but quaint set, with a large fireplace and sturdy wooden furniture, it is easy to see that the Benbows come from great wealth. The use of flashing lights and fog to recreate the foreboding weather outside is successful in putting you inside cryptic Thark, somewhat on edge alongside the characters.
There is so much excitement in the last few minutes of the production, when the fire blows out, lightning strikes, your heart pounds in surprise and you forget where you are for just a moment – truly enthralling.
Thark is at the Park Theatre until 22nd September 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre company’s website here.