Review: Guesthouse, by Nicola Werenowska, Eastern Angles, Waldringfield Village Hall, on tour until May 26

Amanda Bellamy as Val in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Amanda Bellamy as Val in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

Families, at times, are not places for the faint hearted. They can resemble Kangaroo courts with huge great elephants in every corner. Set in Clacton, Guesthouse, written by Nicola Werenowsa, is a drama that unravels 50 years of family history through three generations of the women.

Clare Humphrey as Lisa in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Clare Humphrey as Lisa in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

Val, the grandmother, has given her life and her dreams to the Guesthouse. In fact she seems to have been a guest in her own life, not truly living.

Her daughter, Lisa and grand daughter Chloe want to keep their past alive and have to face each other after years of estrangement. What binds them now, as adults, is Val and broken relationships in a broken town.

Anna Kelsey’s set confines the action to one small space, framed by a curtain. This seems to emphasise the claustrophobia and how the women seem trapped.

Christmas has arrived on the east coast in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasni

Christmas has arrived on the east coast in Eastern Angles spring tour Guesthouse. Photo: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

A stifling atmosphere is created and the projected, found footage of Clacton is contrasted with the seascapes creating the confusing and frustrating paradox of living near such an expansive seascape, with its big skies and the freedom of the ocean, yet feeling so trapped in their lives.


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Nicola Werenowska’s dialogue gives the actors strong characters to work with. Clare Humprey portrays the vulnerability of Lisa so vividly, every nuance of her face aches with regret and yet she still conveys hope. As Val, Amanda Bellamy creates a large and human character. Not overly warm, her prickles are clearly sheer frustration, while Chloe, the grand-daughter (Eleanor Jackson) is definitely a chip off the old block. However, the dialogue feels too conversational at times, it meanders and could do with some sharpening to highlight the moments of tension and humour.

As part of Eastern Angles ongoing commitment to local venues, this show is travelling around Suffolk and will undoubtedly come to a village hall near you.

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