A party of 16 members and their spouses/partners enjoyed an excellent evening out at the Mill theatre at Sonning on 8th November. As it was dark, the views of the attractive old buildings were somewhat limited, but inside there is a very cosy bar, and an upstairs dining area, from which there is easy access into the rather intimate auditorium. The low ceilings and wooden beams give an indication of the age of the buildings which date from the 1700s and 1800s, but there is a mention of mills at Sonning in the Domesday Book so the site has a long history. The mill closed as a flour mill in 1969, and it was purchased and converted into a theatre by the Richards family who reopened it as a theatre in 1982.
The evening started with a drink at the bar and we then went for an excellent buffet-style meal before the performance. The highlight of the meal for some of us was the bread and butter pudding and custard.
A Night in Provence is a comedy written by Robin Hawdon about an English couple who have booked a luxury villa for a 2-week summer holiday, only to find that there has been a mix-up by the agents who had not told the owners about the booking. The trouble – or entertainment – starts when the owners arrive from Paris expecting to use the villa for their own holiday. Shortly after they arrive, the English couple’s Irish friends turn up as well. They all decide that they will have to share the villa, and the play is about the stresses and strains that this causes – a heady mixture of champagne, (misdirected) sexual attraction, and cultural differences.
The play is very well cast, and the actors all performed enthusiastically and with good comic timing. This is perhaps just as well, as the “stage” is effectively a pit, with the audience in a semi-circle looking down on them, rather like a classical Roman or Greek theatre. The play is in some ways something of a Gladiatorial combat, so may be the setting is appropriate!
Our thanks to Tony Atchison for organising a very enjoyable evening.