Bringing drama to Maidstone since 1946

by Hugh Whitemore

Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th April 2009

The sleepy suburbs of Ruislip in 1961 was the setting for the latest production by the Willington Players. The group performed Cold War drama A Pack of Lies at the Hazlitt Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday last week.

On the group's website the players describe themselves as a “small, friendly and sociable group with a professional approach to drama.” This last point was perfectly backed up by the high standard of acting, scene dressing and Trudi Duff's direction displayed in A Pack of Lies.

The story is based on the real life events which lead to the arrest of Americans Peter and Helen Kroger, who were spying for the Russians and subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison. The main characters are Bob and Barbara Jackson and their daughter Julie, a respectable middle class family who form a close friendship with their 'Canadian’ neighbours, the Krogers. The family are forced to betray their friends when M15 come and ask if they can observe the Krogers from the Jackson’s home.

The entire cast of eight managed to capture the drama and suspense needed to carry off this tale. Although all the lead roles were well acted, particular praise should go to Catherine Kenny who played Barbara Jackson. Kenny’s performance showed Barbara go from happy housewife to breaking point as she deals with the realisation that she has betrayed her friends. Richard Pilborough, as stuffy M15 agent Mr Stewart, also shone. Pilborough’s clipped English accent and calm, slightly menacing, control of the situation was spot on.

The Willington Players put on two performances a year, and judging by the quality of a Pack of Lies, I would recommend checking out their next offering.

Review by Helen Wagstaff, KM Online - Tuesday, April 28 2009