Review: On Golden Pond, Lace Market Theatre, by Alan Geary
Directed by Marcus Wakely, the Lace Market's latest production is gently but richly rewarding fare. This is the Ernest Thompson play on which the award-winning film was based.
The first half lays out the situation. Here, it's fair to say, the over-leisurely plot development before the break, which is down to the writer, was on first night emphasised by a certain lack of pace from the actors. After the break skeletons come tumbling out of cupboards – or closets since this is American. But they're the sort of skeletons most of us have in our closets.
It's a small family where father and daughter haven't always got on well together. At the age of forty-two, for reasons that become clear, she continues to call him "Norman" instead of "Dad".
Retired English professor Norman – "professor" presumably in the American sense – is played by a well-cast Geoff Longbottom. Despite a slightly wandering accent he delivers a terrific performance. Norman is a comically xenophobic man of his generation with anxieties about getting old and what looks like the onset of dementia.
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Daughter Chelsea, returning for her first visit in eight years, is played by Helen Sharp in another of her confident and well observed performances. Andy Taylor is utterly credible as Charlie, the big and simple mailman with a huge laugh who's had a quietly tragic love for Chelsea since boyhood.
Arguably, Carol Parkinson as Ethel, eleven years her husband's junior, apparently effortlessly, gives the performance of the evening. She's the moral centre of the piece.
Kevin Briffett and twelve-year-old Alec Boaden are, respectively, father and son Bill and Billy Ray They're both excellent.
It's a convincing eighties set, the Thayers' lakeside home in Maine where they're spending their forty-eighth summer together. And the background sound – As Time Goes By and Sinatra doing September Song – is unobtrusively right for a play about ageing and the passage of time.
This isn't the sort of entertainment you go to for an evening of action-packed extravagance, but anyone in what is euphemistically called late middle age will surely find it entirely psychologically realistic. So should everyone else.
On Golden Pond runs at the Lace Market Theatre till Saturday, 16th February