Henley Standard Property


Order your copy Advertise with us! HENLEY PAGES
Delivering the news from Henley on Thames and South Oxfordshire for over 100 years
  News     Sport    Celebrity   What's On Regulars Community Info Henley Standard TV Lifestyle Property Jobs Classifieds Gallery Trade
                               Follow us    Follow us    Newsfeed Search the Henley Standard  
Review: Mill gets dose of Italian warmth
Published 31/03/14

THE sun-drenched landscape of northern Italy is the setting for Enchanted April, a charming and thoroughly enchanting romcom currently playing at the Mill at Sonning.

Lured by the promise of wisteria and sunshine after the grey of a rain-lashed, post-war London, four genteel ladies answer an advert to rent a medieval castle overlooking the shores of the Mediterranean for a month.

Previously unknown to each other, the quartet are a disparate group, each with their own personal quirks and reasons to escape the strictures and demons in their everyday lives.

The ‘romcom’ description probably does this play something of a disservice, giving the impression that it’s just light-headed, kissy-kissy fluff — which it is not. Below the surface are four women, two in unsatisfactory marriages, another hemmed in by the expectations of aristocratic parents and a 60-something widow who just seems dissatisfied with her lot.

Matthew Barber’s play, adapted from Elizabeth Von Arnim’s 1922 novel, sparkles with enthusiasm and glee. Deftly directed by Sally Hughes, it depicts how initial clashes in personality and petty selfishness gradually soften under the magic of the women’s surroundings. This, together with the arrival of the castle’s owner and a couple of husbands, ensures a feelgood happy ending, with much laughter — after a few twists along the way.

The austere setting of drab London in the first act contrasts so strongly with the sunbathed, honey-coloured castle walls of the second act that we in the audience could well have been transported to Italy during the interval.

Fine performances were delivered throughout — Sarah Edwardson as the high-spirited but bored solicitor’s wife Lottie, Francesca Bailey, the luminous and languid Lady Caroline Bramley, Hildegard Neil, an acid-tongued and condescending Mrs Graves. And Melanie Gutteridge’s buttoned-up Rose Arnott positively blossomed, throwing off her “disappointed Madonna” image to one of happy optimism.

But it was the eye-rolling, arm-waving and general perplexity of Anna-Maria Everett’s Italian-speaking cook Costanza that almost stole the show.

A beguiling play that delivered far more than I was actually expecting.

* Continues to May 17.

Enchanted April

Mill at Sonning

Thursday, March 20

Carol Evans

PUBLISHED 31/03/14

Legend’s daughter has embraced musical role
Dr Foster episode being filmed in Henley
Charity ball raises 19k for hospice
Contractors warn of Henley road closure
Wife's anger at grave blunder
Museum cafe operator resigns
Protest for gym site care home visit
'Overflowing bins give Henley poor image'
Tricks, treats and how to beat the winter blues
Pilates ABC
Shop is the home of natural, healthy sleep
Follow our chiropractors’ tips for watching your back
School’s aim is to inspire young minds and create bright futures
Take your pick from more than 60 top courses
Rowing scholarships are still up for grabs
Kindergarten offers so much to discover
Take on Strictly challenge with new 10-week beginners’ course
Learn healing art at the hands of a master
A simple op can take years off
Understand how to work with your body
Latest Video View more from   Henley Standard TV
Upholsterer scoops top award for third time
Father and son recreate Italian Job for charity
Pub bids for food award
Toll bridge must close again for road widening
Fun day to help cancer patient
Top Videos
Most Popular
Higgs Group
Tel: 01491 419400
Tel: 01491 419419
Tel: 01491 149429
Tel: 01491 419499
Tel: 01491 419449
  HIGGS GROUP, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1AD. Telephone (01491) 419400  
© Higgs & Co (Printing) Limited 2012  |  Registered in England number 1418717