The new team of Jonathan Church and Alan Finch kick off their first season at Chichester with an interesting new play by Richard Everett. Grace has recently been widowed and has to leave the rectory to make way for the next incumbent. The structure of the play allows her to have dialogue with her dead husband, 40 years vicar of the parish, but this is seen as undesirable yet normal grieving by her daughter and sister. The latter drops a bombshell which makes Grace appear even more difficult, meanwhile her daughter is in danger of creating problems for the new incumbent.
Penelope Keith is a splendid Grace, a person who obviously adored a husband that became increasingly remote hiding in God. Her caustic comment and plain anguish cannot be ignored and this is a performance of stature. Her daughter, Jo, is well developed by Abigail Thaw who tries all the tricks of her psycho therapy training to get her mother and aunt to come to a rapprochement but proving she is a rotten listener with the new incumbents. Polly Adams as Ruth, the sister who has been a missionary in Africa for 30 years, is utterly believable in her naivety while Benjamin Whitrow as the dead Bardolph is a man who hides himself well in theology. The newcomers, Caroline Harker as Sarah and Michael Lumsden as Nicholas provide a fine balance.
The set by Paul Farnsworth is attractive and versatile. Direction by Alan Strachan is brisk with well pointed one liners.