The Rose and Crown, TheSpace at Niddry Street, Fringe Review
Arbery Productions brings of a forgotten play from J B Priestley, best known now for the multi adaptations of An Inspector Calls, his wonderful satire on society’s hypocrisy set in early 20th century England. The Rose and Crown was written in 1946 as a BBC TV drama and brings together in its 40- minute duration Priestley’s astute observations of human interaction along with the spooky appearance of a life changing stranger.
We’re inside the stark public bar of the ‘Rose and Crown’, whose words show in reverse on the pub’s window. Three small tables with bentwood chairs are gradually occupied by the locals who place their orders of mild, bitter and brown stout, their choice of drinking area and drinks indicating their working class status. Fred, the invisible barman, silently serves through a dull ‘40s style wood divider from the lounge bar beyond, where more expensive gins and lime will be among the orders of the day.
The six strong cast of worthies, all perfectly clad in the styles of the time, range from the cheery local spiv Harry Tully (Charles Finnie); Mrs Reed the hypochondriac (Hilary Davies), the hirpling old Mrs Peck (Beverly Wright) who all bring real authenticity to their characters and don’t miss a beat in their delivery of Priestley’s text, but notable are Chris Bain and Hannah Bradley as the young married couple Percy and Ivy whose dynamics are perfectly captured and Oliver Cookson as the a grumpy middle aged small businessman Mr Stone. Cockney accents are given a good stab at all round by the Edinburgh based cast.
When a disconcerting stranger (Oliver Trotter) appears in their midst, all their talk of death, ill health and general moans and groans about life come back to haunt them as one of them has to willingly leave with him forever. Find out who that is in this fine resurrection of a gem of an old fashioned drama that is a wee oasis among the Fringe madness not just because of its short running time but because of the high quality of this amateur company’s production. Thoroughly enjoyable!
August 22nd - 27th at 9.10pm