Dave Bowden does a fantastic job directing a very strong cast in this play by Hugh Whitemore
The Jackson are a nice middle aged English couple. Their best friends are their Canadian neighbors, the Krogers. All is blissful in their world until a detective from Scotland Yard asks to use their house as an observation station to try and foil a Soviet spy ring operating in the area. The Jacksons become more and more put out as Scotland Yard's demands on them increase. They are really put to the test when the detective reveals that the spies are the Krogers and he asks them to help set a trap. Should they betray their friends?
Bob Jackson - Nigel Bacon
Barbara Jackson - Lou Jackson
Julie Jackson - Pippa Stacey
Helen Kroger - Kath Gill
Peter Kroger - Rhett Boudreau
Stewart - Nick Wyse
Thelma - Polly Stott
Sally - Pia Obank
"Tension mounts in spy thriller"
(Bucks Free Press review by Archie Wilson)
Set in 1961 with the Portland spy case as it background, Hugh Whitemore's Pack of Lies focuses not so much on the Krogers themselves, but on the way the Jacksons, a suburban couple, were drawn into a web of deceit by the MI6.
It is a subtle study in the pain of betrayal and conflicting loyalties leading to the breakdown and eventual destruction of an ordinary family.
The shadowy figure of Stewart was well portrayed by Nick Wyse who got inside the character and managed to show him as he must have been, supercilious and often patronising using the Jacksons as pawns in a deadly chess game.
After a nervous start, Lou Jackson blossomed as the bewildered and guilt ridden housewife Barbara Jackson and by the end one could see the effect such an ordeal has having on her (Barbara Jackson died of a heart attack not long after the case) and her family life.
Pippa Stacey's Julie Jackson, the daughter, had bounce, verve and appropriate pathos where required - her occasional teenage tantrums came over well!
Polly Stott and Pia Obank as Stewart's assistants back the main cast quite adequately and Rhett Boudreau played Peter Kroger quietly and without frills or fuss - much as one would imagine the man himself.
Kath Gill as Helen Kroger was a head above the rest, her Canadian accent faltered not at all and her portrayal of a woman who must have lived on knife-edge most of the time was simply superb. I could almost feel the growing panic as she probed the Jacksons with seemingly innocuous questions in her desperate attempt to get information.
The set was quite brilliant, when the curtains opened, it was easy to believe that we were looking through the window of a typical late fifties/early sixties house.
The was an enjoyable evening spoilt somewhat by an over active prompt who appeared to jump in when a little more caution would surely have seen the players work it out for themselves.
Lane End Village Hall
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