Midland Players’ latest offering is the stage adaptation of Graham Greene’s quirky novel.
Meeting Aunt Augusta for the first time in half a century at his mother’s funeral is an interesting encounter for Henry to say the least. Skeletons come flying out of the cupboard at an alarming rate.
In a couple of breaths, his biological mother’s identity and his father’s fidelity are called into question. The recently retired bank manager could be forgiven for wanting to retreat to the safety of tending dahlias for the rest of his days.
John Lowry is excellent as the narrator of Henry’s story. Frank Badger as initially timid Henry and Jan Wright as eccentric and somewhat amoral Aunt Augusta give good performances. These three key players just about raise Greene’s sporadically intriguing but mostly plodding tale above the pedestrian.
As Henry is drawn into Aunt Augusta’s world of sex, drugs, foreign countries and dodgy deals, his life is certainly more exciting and there is more than a hint of danger. Augusta is a complex character indeed. Although not the most virtuous of women, she is devoid of bigotry, unusual for a septuagenarian in an age of intolerance and apartheid.
She also pursues bizarre niche gaps in the market such as establishing a church for dogs. Even when Augusta describes her dubious escapades and shenanigans, Wright delivers the lines so nonchalantly we find her almost ingenuous and charming.
Paul North and Ian Whitehead also star as Augusta’s lovers Wordsworth and Mr Visconti.