Fans of BishBashBosh have come to expect great things with each production and A Mere Interlude is as good as it gets. Alan Kent’s terrific adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel is a tale of Scilly folk peppered with romance, sex, violence and a huge amount of fun.
Set in the late 1880s, the story of unhappy and subversive schoolteacher, Baptista Trewethen, unfolds as she falls in love while her scheming parents secretly plan to marry her off to the richest merchant on the islands. What follows is a marvellous romp with unexpected twists and turns and a variety of weird and wonderful characters.
Baptista is portrayed beautifully by Catherine Self, who gains the full sympathy of the audience as she stumbles from one mishap to the next in her one woman attempt to emancipate the girls in her class. Her tangled love life is shared with her only friend, Ellen Hambly, brilliantly played by Holly Kavanagh. Diminutive in size, Holly is a powerhouse on stage – seamlessly morphing from confidante and friend to cackling crone Jenna Trewethen as well as portraying the hilarious Anglican Minister, William Polglaze. Dean Nolan is a shiny star, fabulously funny as the lusting and loaded merchant who is determined to buy Baptista before sharing his dark secrets with her. Superb in every role he undertakes, Benjamin Symes plays nasty thief and blackmailer Jago, a divinely camp Frenchman with a hotel in Penzance and colluding husband Henry Trewethen. Baptista’s heart belongs to the innocent and doomed Charles Stow – quietly, yet brilliantly, played by Ed Williams. This fine cast pop up as other minor, but nonetheless important, characters throughout to add more laughter and a few surprises to proceedings.
An ingenious stage design allows changes from a windswept cliff to a train, a Packet steamer, a home, a hotel room, a boatyard, gardens, a rowing boat and everything in between with the use of chairs and a few bits of wood. The choreography in each change of scene is deft and perfectly timed by the cast, building each new set before the audience can draw breath.
Fast paced with much merriment A Mere Interlude is played out to a background of beautiful original music written and performed by top local musicians The People’s String Foundation. If you like physical theatre, cleverly crafted and brilliantly performed, put A Mere Interlude at the top of your ‘to do’ list.