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Pack of Lies


Godney Amateur Dramatic Society, formed ten years ago just gets better and better.  Their most recent production which took place on July 11-13th was Pack of Lies written by Hugh Whitemore, and directed by Robert Best. On what must surely have been one of the hottest nights of the year so far, the intriguing plot and strong acting kept the audience at Godney Village Hall engrossed.
The play was a brave choice for an amateur production as it is a very ‘wordy’, with several long complicated speeches which the cast, without exception, all managed perfectly.
It was based on a true story, set at a time when the Cold War was at its height and featured events leading to the arrest of Helen and Peter Kroger who were subsequently convicted of spying for the Russians in 1961.  But the play was less about politics and more to do with what happens when ordinary people, in this case a family from suburban Ruislip, get caught up in extraordinary events - and the devastating effects deceit and lies have on friendships.
I was very impressed by the meticulous care that had been taken with period detail by both the set and costume designers. I was a teenager in the 1960s and the authentic details brought back many memories.
Nicky Brookes played the pivotal role of Barbara Jackson, the suburban housewife devastated by the revelation that her best friend is, in fact, a spy with great sensitivity and poignancy.  Hers was, indeed, an outstanding performance while Martin Pennycott, as her husband Bob, was a very convincing 1960s man who couldn’t quite see what all the fuss was about.
And to complete the family, Charlie Munday, as their daughter Julie made a very engaging teenager. And once again I loved the period detail of her clothes, particularly the long white socks which took me right back!
One of the most difficult things to carry off successfully is an accent but Kim DeVries and Cliff Munday,  who played the Krogers managed their American/Canadian accents  brilliantly. Kim’s part in particular had some delightful moments of humour which she delivered with a light, confident touch.
John Cranwell gave a superb  performance as the chilling, deadpan Stewart, the man in charge of the operation to catch the Krogers while Annie Deeley who played Thelma, whose job it was to keep the Krogers under surveillance, came across very well as a sympathetic person, uncomfortable about the distress the operation was causing the family, Barbara in particular.
My congratulations to Hannah Brookes who made her acting debut with the part of Thelma's colleague, Sally which she did perfectly.  Hannah is also stage manager on this production and I've no doubt she thoroughly enjoyed the chance to tell her mum, Nicky, what to do!
I was also particularly impressed by the way the scene changes were managed as the stage went dark and one of the actors would step into the spotlight to talk directly to the audience while behind them, the stage crew moved quietly and efficiently without distracting the audience.
These monologues were beautifully written and gave us an insight into the different characters.   Nicky Brookes’s delivery, when Barbara was talking about her mother-in-law who ‘didn’t like to make a fuss’ was so moving (and so reminded me of my own mother) that it brought a tear to my eye.
There is so much talent in such a small village that I'm beginning to think there must be something in the water in Godney - or maybe, judging from the way the cast and crew piled into the Sheppey Inn afterwards, the beer!
Pauline Williams, Newlyn, Wells Road, Wookey, Wells, BA5.1LQ
Phone: 0777 0777 950 Email:  paulawilliams24@yahoo.co.uk