Excellent performances by Cubbington group in moving, sensitive play

Colder Than Here by the Cubbington Players, Cubbington village hall. On until tomorrow (Saturday). www.cubbingtonplayers.com

Alec (Andrew Kneeshaw), Myra (Hazel Blenkinsop), Harriet (back) (Hannah Fordham) and Jenna (Fay Staton) in the Cubbington Players' production of Laura Wade's Colder Than Here.
Alec (Andrew Kneeshaw), Myra (Hazel Blenkinsop), Harriet (back) (Hannah Fordham) and Jenna (Fay Staton) in the Cubbington Players' production of Laura Wade's Colder Than Here.

A play about a mother who is dying of bone cancer and obsessed with planning her funeral may sound rather bleak.

But the Cubbington Players’ excellent and poignant production of Laura Wade’s Colder Than Here is deeply engaging, moving, funny and firmly rooted in the reality of modern family life.

The 2005 script by Wade, who has spent time working for the Playbox Theatre in Warwick, consists of just four characters: the dying Myra (Hazel Bleninsop), her husband Alec (Andrew Kneeshaw) and her twenty-something-year-old daughters Harriet (Hannah Fordham) and Jenna (Fay Stanton). While the family attempt to face the stark reality that Myra is going to die, they must learn how to talk to each other and confront their own feelings.

Although the subject matter is brutally cruel, the fantastic cast’s portrayal of how family members communicate with one another is so very natural. We in the audience totally forget that we are sitting in the artificial theatre setting of a village hall. While the characters clearly care for one another, their relations are far from rose-tinted and they argue, shout, snap, joke and chat seriously - as most of us do with our parents, children and siblings.

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Myra’s deterioration, coupled with her determination to be practical, is remarkably portrayed by Bleninsop, while Alec’s deadpan humour (‘a watched pot never boils’, he says in response to Harriet’s observation that his wife is dying yet he carries on as normal) and the two daughters’ conflicting personalities bring so much humanity to a situation where sympathy and sadness are stubbornly fought against.

Hungarian Dances by Brahms is played in between scenes: a beautiful but contrasting piece, it moves from serene to bold and energetic - very fitting for this sensitive drama.

Sundari Cleal