The sunset over Tatton Park, makes the ideal setting for the ladies of Cranford to disapprove of anyone who doesn’t meet their code of conduct.
This version, adapted for Chapterhouse Theatre Company by Laura Turner, coincides with the 201st anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth - a Knutsford resident, she based Cranford on the town.
The chief perpetrators of gossip are the straight-laced Miss Matty Jenkyns (Kirsty Cox) and Miss Pole (Grace K Miller) together with Miss Matty’s house guest, Mary Smith (Kirsty Worthington) but it is usually just idle chatter.
The excitement comes, not only with the anticipated arrival of the railway but the unanticipated arrival of Captain Brown (Stewart James Barham) as unattached men are a rare phenomena in Cranford. When his daughter, Jessie (Emily Swatton) succumbs to the charms of another man, Major Gordon (Ellis J Wells) their kisses causes a flutter among the ladies.
Two scenes involving pets cause giggles. Grace K. Miller, one of my favourite performers, hilariously describes how Pussy Wilkins accidentally eats posh Mrs Jamieson’s lace and how it is retrieved when the animal defecates!
Another is when Signor Brunoni (Ellis J Wells again), a conjuror, makes Mrs Jamieson’s dog, Carlo, disappear then brings it back, dead. This gives Jenny Lea- Jones, who plays Mrs J, a chance to display indignant grief!
Instrumentalists, Kirsty Cox and Caroline Hallam add pleasant background music but overhead planes at 3 minute intervals in the first half drown the speech. It is debatable whether the actors should pause when this happens.
- Julia Taylor
(Reviewed at Tatton Park)