Neighbourhood Watch

Well meaning neighbours can be wonderful- but when things are taken to the extreme, absolute power will corrupt. Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s 75th play is directed by Anna Crawford and set on the right side of the tracks in the English town of Bluebell Hill, just a short distance away from the nasty housing housing estate which is the cause of much angst of the residents. New residents Martin (Brian Meegan) and his sister Hilda (Fiona Press) move into the area and after mistaking a clarinet playing schoolboy for an intruder, Martin and his sister decide its up to them to form a group to protect the neighbourhood. The coppers are not interested in the residents safety so its time to form a quasi vigilante society. Enlisting the support of retired security officer Rod (Bill Young), retired classifieds editor Dorothy (Gillian Axtell) and social misfit and shed tinkerer Gareth (Jamie Oxenbould) – who delightfully just takes things a little too far, absurd rules and regulations are laid down to protect the locals. Not everyone is pleased about the extent to which such “protection” is required- do you really need stocks in the village?! The Discipline and Protection subcommittee think so! Luther (Douglas Hansell), is the most vocal and physical about his objections to the over the top regime created by the self appointed watchers. His wife Magda (Lizzie Mitchell) is not sure which way to go but plumps for safety with the group. Gareth’s wife Amy (Olivia Pigeot), the local siren, finds humour in the whole thing and sets her cap at the seemingly upright Martin. This is a dig at people with nothing better to do than scare monger in a previously well functioning neighbourhood (reflecting the worked up fear that flooded through England after the riots in 2009) – whilst simultaneously exposing the secretive goings on between the village members. A satirical comedy but which for me doesn’t get comedic enough. There are a few laughs but at times its like watching a B grade BBC comedy from the late 70’s. Not one of Sir Alan’s best. When and where: Ensemble Theatre Kirribilli till Jan 24, 2014