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All In Good Time Review

by Graeme Cumming

Last Friday saw the opening night of Retford Little Theatre's first play of the season.

All in Good Time was originally produced in the early 1960s and is perhaps better known for its film adaptation, The Family Way.

Billed as "a northern comedy with a dramatic heart", it meets as expectations. The action surrounds Arthur and Violet beginning married life under the same roof as his parents, and Arthur's resulting inability to consummate the marriage.

Thanks to some fine acting from all cast members, we feel Arthur's pain and Violet's frustration, while their respective parents project their own feelings and experiences on to the young couple.

All of this is expressed in a mixture of heated exchanges, unsolicited advice and blunt one-liners (Joan Young establishing herself as the queen of the dry put-down).

The large cast makes it difficult to highlight individual performances, but two new faces at the Little Theatre deserve special mention. Amy Wiles ably explores the sensitive balance between Violet's gentle understanding of Arthur's problem and her concern at his growing anger. Deej Mitchell, on the other hand, plays Arthur's brother - a slightly ambiguous role at times - and delivers some comic one-liners with perfect timing.

If I had a reservation at all, it related to certain set-pieces where different groups of people were talking at the same time. The overlapping dialogue had the potential to cross a line into confusion, but the experienced cast kept it on the right side of that line.

As ever with the Little Theatre, the set warrants comment. Cleverly devised to allow scenes to be played out in the bedroom as well as a living room, it was used to great effect at what can best be described as the climax of the play.

Of course, all of this is only my opinion. What really counts is the audience reaction. Judging from the performance I saw, with the laughter increasing as the story progressed and the characters became more familiar, I would say it was well received and deservedly so.

All in Good Time is an outstanding start to the season. Let's hope it sets the standard for the rest of the year.