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Engrossing evening of intelligence and humour

Entertaining Angels, Rugby Theatre, September 15-22.

Rugby Theatre’s new show does what it says on the tin - entertain.

This short piece of Boulevard theatre, realism in an unrealistic situation, allows actor turned writer Richard Everett to explore some major themes.

The cast of five handle his script of very funny dialogue with easy naturalism while discussing the big issues of life - death, morality and faith. ”Songs of Praise on Acid” as daughter, Jo, calls it, part of a fine performance by Sam Caldecott.

Grace, played superbly by Sue Morris, is her mother, and recently widowed vicar’s wife, being comforted and fussed over by her sister, the equally excellent Marie Phillips as Ruth.

Kay Fitzpatrick, as the incumbent vicar Sarah, holds her own in the scenes with the three relatives. One realises how rarely four actresses get a chance to interact this way, particularly with strong roles for older women.

Though written in 2006, Everett couldn’t be more up to date, writing fully-formed female roles for the “woke” generation. It is yet another example of Rugby Theatre’s very astute and carefully planned programming.

The last line of the play is almost a feminist shibboleth. Without being preachy, Entertaining Angels delivers a thought-provoking evening, discussing fundamental theological questions within a framework of humour.

Michael Lynch as the husband Bardolph, is both present and absent a la Alan Rickman in Truly Madly Deeply. Visions and flashbacks are woven seamlessly into the action, sometimes with a simple blackout, sound effect and fly in topiary changing the time frame. Scenic designer Steve Orton has created a picture postcard English country garden, yet within this pastoral setting come fast and furious plot twists, cliff hangers and revelations.

This production succeeds in leaving the audience to consider some fundamental moral dilemmas while belly laughing at some great punch lines. It's an engrossing evening of intelligence and humour not to be missed.

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Pictured: Sue Morris as Grace and Michael Lynch as Bardolph.

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