Charity No: 260045


Yet another landmark production for this enterprising group, which displayed remarkable writing, considerable ambition, inventive staging, exceptional acting and impressive technical competence.

Written by Keith Burton (who also directed), the clever, complex and intriguing plot made great demands of both actors and technical staff, all of whom far surpassed any expectations.

The plot revolves around a seemingly-simple situation: Evie and Stephen are a childless couple in a dockside flat packing prior to emigrating for Australia, surrounded by their families.

However, there are dark secrets in the past which are subtly revealed as the individual story-lines interweave to build a complex back-story, only fully revealed in the final few startling seconds.

The play opened with the neurotic Evie, played by Jenny McNair, alone on stage packing, her shredded nerves plagued by seemingly paranormal activity around her, the effects ingeniously managed by the backstage crew.

Jenny's sense of unease immediately engaged the audience and drew them into the mystery and intrigue surrounding the strange events taking place around her.

Evie and her husband Stephen, played with assurance by Michael Thorne, had a bitter, acrimonious relationship based upon past failures and misdeeds, and the atmosphere between them was brilliantly portrayed.

Michael's performance brought out Stephen's past misdemeanours which weighed heavily on him, and fuelled the rancorous relationship with Evie.

Assisting with the packing was Stephen's brother Malcom (Peter Buller), who also had a past secret which had made him awkward and socially-inept, and Peter portrayed his ineffectuality and inability to face reality with aplomb.

Stephen's parents were also there to provide somewhat limited help: father Ken, a former cargo ship's captain, was descending into dementia, and Jerry Harvey gave a masterly portrayal of a man drifting between child-like innocence and memories of his dark and sinister past as a mariner.

Jerry gradually allowed us to believe that Ken held the darkest secret of all, revealed at the final denouement.


Linda Harvey as Stephen's mother was another finely-drawn character, at odds with her daughter in law and strained by the demands of coping with Ken's failing health and mental decline, and Linda's nuanced performance gave the role great sensitivity and feeling.

Evie's doubts and fears were fuelled by her mother Marcella, played by Carol Bailey, whose psychic qualities built a sense of dread and foreboding and created palpable tensions between the family members.

Although it would have been easy to overplay this role, Carol gave a considered and controlled performance which did much to imply a sense of other-worldly activity.

You expect team acting at the Playhouse, and that's exactly what you got: six carefully-constructed characters who combined to build the tension as the layers of the plot peeled away to reach a thrilling, chilling climax.

A cluttered, busy stage was skilfully and almost imperceptibly managed by the actors who moved boxes and furniture with ease and simplicity, the set itself being one of the stars of the show as it gradually transformed into something sinister and unexpected.

The staging of the various ethereal events – disconnected lights and radios switching on and off, ghostly lightings, inanimate objects suddenly moving - was effective and totally convincing.

The sound effects were particularly compelling, creating a real sense of dread and apprehension.

SELLING UP went on to be PBDS's entry into the Nidderdale Drama Festival (follow this link) where this reviewer's admiration was obviously shared by the adjudicator who gave the production seven awards, including Best Senior Play and well-deserved Best Actor and Actress awards for Jerry and Linda Harvey respectively.


Yet another remarkable production from a remarkable Theatre Company.


review by  Nelson Pitt

photographs by Chris Iredale


[a slightly edited version of this review appeared in the Nidderdale Herald]

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