Laying the Ghost

by Simon Williams

22nd – 25th April 2009

This fast moving comedy is set in Yew Tree House, a retirement home for a group of eccentric, charming and “growing old outrageously” theatricals. These include ex-actress Margot Buchanan and her psychic friend Freda; Margot is less than pleased when she receives three birthday visitors: her ex-husband Sir Leo Buchanan a well-known actor and philanderer, his second wife and his current mistress.
LTG Poster Small

The Cast

Freda Deacon: Liz Saxton
Margot Buchanan: Mary Warrington
Mrs Kidd: Brenda Prior
Sadie: Naomi Read
Lady Buchanan: Tracey Pearce
Leo Buchanan: Mike Long
Superman: Charlie East
Orderlies: Robin Hawkins / Tim Roberts

Produced by Nick Roberts, assisted by Eric Saxton

Newbury Weekly News review

Spirited debut for director

Simon Williams’ Laying the Ghost was a good choice for Compton Players’ latest production, with echoes of Blithe Spirit. Well done to Nick Roberts in his directorial debut – he had the benefit of a witty script and a sound cast who gave good performances; it was an entertaining piece with some intriguing twists.

The characters were well drawn, but the pace dipped on occasion – it could have been crisper.

The action took place in Yew Tree House, an actors’ retirement home. Two of its colourful residents were Margot Buchanan, the witty and outspoken former-wife of the famous actor Sir Leo Buchanan and Freda Deacon, an eccentric old dear with a penchant for rude jigsaws and a scary habit of talking to ghosts.

On Margot’s 70th birthday, she received a variety of unexpected and rather unwanted guests including Sir Leo, who, at the end of act one, suffered a fatal heart attack and in act two his ghost appeared, but only visible to Freda. This set the scene for good comedy moments which the players and audience enjoyed.

As Mrs Kidd, Brenda Prior created a good character, bustling about as the manager of the home, and I loved the scene with Sir Leo’s ‘body’ on the floor and the business with his false teeth while his ‘spirit’ looked on – very surreal.

Mary Warrington (Margot Buchanon) had a large role and delivered well, bringing out the many facets to the character. Liz Saxton, as the delightfully-eccentric Freda Deacon, was a real treat, with wonderful facial expressions and good interaction. As Sir Leo Buchanan, the two- (or three-?) timer, Mike Long looked imposing and was impressive with a good presence. Tracey Pearce as Judy, his current wife, was poised and acted her part well, but was a little underpowered and quiet at times. Naomi Read was understated but effective as Sadie Croft, the aspiring young actress and Sir Leo’s latest squeeze.

The set worked well, but the paint effect on the walls, which I feel sure was deliberate, just looked a bit unfinished to me and did not aid the setting, but in all, a well-rounded and enjoyable production.