This award-winning director has crafted JB Priestley’s rarely seen production of Eden End with the hand of a master, even a master of such relatively young years.
Charlotte Emmerson as Stella and Nick Hendrix as Wilfrid in Eden End at the Royal, Northampton Photo: Robert Day
Laurie Sansom has drawn out every ounce of humour, pathos, tension, jealousies and affections that he possibly could from this very Edwardian drama.
Having said that, the first act is somewhat sluggish, even pedantic, but then this work is not renowned for its fireworks.
Whilst one can enjoy the writing and directing of the earlier action, it is the drunken verbal sparring between Daniel Betts who plays Charles Appleby and Nick Hendrix as Wilfred Kirby that lights the blue touch paper. An extraordinary scene in that Hendrix only graduated from RADA in 2010 and this is his professional theatre debut. A performance which shows considerable talent and is clearly lead all the way by the highly experienced Betts.
Charlotte Emmerson gets right under the skin of Stella Kirby, daughter of a doctor, who flees the nest for eight years to tread the boards, only for her life to be anything but a dream.
Daisy Douglas plays her dour, restrained, frustrated sister Lilian. A brilliant contrast indeed.
William Chubb is the redoubtable country GP, Doctor Kirby, with a philosophical strength and Jonathan Firth a gallant country farmer, Geoffrey Farrant, charged with emotional conflict.
Carol Macready is the delightful, warm, huggable housekeeper Sarah who tries desperately to hold everything together.
Sara Perks has pulled off yet another stunning set design creating the epitome of an Edwardian country house scene.