Potters Bar Theatre Company returns to the Wyllyotts stage with production of Noël Coward classic Still Life
- Credit: Potters Bar Theatre Company
Back treading the boards, members of Potters Bar Theatre Company are busy preparing for their first production in over a year.
As life starts to return to something like normal this autumn, PBTC presents Still Life by Noël Coward at the Wyllyotts Theatre on Saturday, September 18.
There are just two performances, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Director Nick Vause said: “Our production of Still Life will be the company’s first performance on the Wyllyotts’ stage since November 2019.
"This is a big event for us and we hope that we get a good audience to come and see the show, which will be given two performances at the Wyllyotts Theatre, Potters Bar, on Saturday, September 18.”
We caught up with Nick for a quick Q&A to talk more about the show.
You have called it an 'On Air' production. What does that mean?
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It means that we are performing the play in the style of a vintage radio recording.
The actors will read from scripts but there will be live sound effects to help the audience’s imagination. We’ll also be in costume, 1930s style.
Why have you chosen to do the play in this style?
It’s partly a response to 'lockdown' when we weren’t able to get together to rehearse face to face.
We kept ourselves going as a theatre company by reading plays together on Zoom.
We then thought it would work well if we took a play and actually rehearsed the reading and got it ready to present to an audience – rather than just sight-reading it once.
Why did you choose Still Life?
For a start, you can’t go wrong with Noël Coward. He is not known as 'The Master' for nothing!
This is a beautifully constructed short play in five scenes and it has a wonderful combination of poignant romance and hilarious comedy, all very skillfully interwoven.
It’s probably better known to most people through the screen version, 'Brief Encounter'.
So, this was the stage play on which the classic romantic movie 'Brief Encounter' is based?
Yes, 'Brief Encounter' is a very faithful screen adaptation of the play and arguably Noël Coward’s most famous work.
We will be borrowing some ideas from the movie, such as its brilliant use of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, which is also the soundtrack to our production.
Can you just remind us of what the play is about?
It’s basically a love story. The two lovers are both very respectable middle-class, middle-aged people who have a chance 'encounter' at a railway station.
The woman, Laura, gets a piece of grit in her eye and the man, Alec, is a doctor and he comes to her rescue.
From that moment on they start meeting in the station refreshment room on a weekly basis and romance blossoms but eventually they realise that they have other responsibilities and are forced to give each other up.
It’s a story of repressed passion and the conflict between duty, responsibility and romantic love but it’s all beautifully understated and extremely touching.
While all of this is going on, Coward has lots of fun with the railway station workers and the two women who work behind the counter in the refreshment room.
It’s their gossiping and commenting on the action that gives the play its comedy and provides the context for the romantic drama. I think it’s a small masterpiece.
Do you think people will want to come and see it?
I hope so. It’s a lovely play – a classic of its kind – but more importantly, I think that after more than 18 months of not going out, people need to try and get back into the habit of going to the theatre again.
This is a short play, just over an hour, and we’ve made the ticket prices pretty reasonable at £12 each.
It’s a chance to get out and to support the arts in your local community.
The environment will be totally safe and it has to be more fun than just sitting in and watching the TV. Come and join us on Saturday, September 18!