Black comedy at its finest, well played
Neighbourhood WatchPreston Drama ClubPreston Playhouse
Coronation Street fans will recognise shades of Roy Cropper in Jeff Brailsford’s telling portrayal of Martin, a mild mannered pacifist who moves into a posh new development with his sister but who meets his dramatic destiny ranting like Attila the Hun.
Dennis Yardley shines as his paranoid neighbour, Rod, an ex-security guard, who warns him about the supposed vandalism, drugs and violence on the adjoining rundown estate.
Martin decides to tackle the problem by inviting the neighbours round to form a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Anxious to protect their properties, they go completely over the top, building barbed wire fences, introducing identity cards and arming themselves with baseball bats.
Carol Unitt is Martin’s sister, Hilda, a devout Christian who turns revengeful as she realises she might lose her brother to the glamorous Amy (played by Rachel Hall at her most seductive).
Amy is ignored by her strange husband, Gareth (Kieran McBride), who is too enthusiastically busy building stocks to deter future offenders.
Shirley Southern is perfect as Rod’s wife, Dorothy, the archetypal nosey neighbour; Dominic Dwyer makes a truly menacing figure as wife-beater Luther while Chery Taylor plays his submissive wife, Megan, who seeks solace from an unexpected source.
This is an Alan Ayckbourn black comedy at its best, hilariously funny in parts and yet, alongside the humour, is an underlying warning of the dangers of repressed sexuality and religious fervour carried to extremes.
Directed by Jeff Brailsford and Don Stephenson and well-acted by all the cast, the play offers an insightful look into the life of the typical British Daily Mail reader and of what might happen if decent middle class citizens take the law into their own hands.