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Middleboro – SET to the glorious backdrop of an English Garden, Nemasket River Productions’ fall show,  Alan Ayckbourn’s “Round and Round the Garden” has much to recommend it.   There’s affairs, mix ups and a copious amount of Mother’s home-brewed parsnip wine all set in the chaotic 70’s.

We meet Annie (Karin Page Henderson, the ever dutiful daughter) who is fed up with having to look after her bed ridden Mother. She wants excitement in her life; to get away from the mundane to the glamorous; yet …..still in love with the tentative but not quite so glamorous Tom, (Eric Henderson).
Enter Norman (Paul Collins), Annie’s brother-in-law, a bumbling, chaotic, self-centered man, who just seems to want to make all the women in his life happy but fails. Norman has promised a weekend away, but really Annie is not so sure this is a good idea for she truly cares for Tom, a vet, who is clearly better with animals than with people; if only he could get Mother’s cat to come down from that tree.

Too add to the chaos Annie’s brother Reg (Michael McGill) and his wife Sarah (Kristina Dahlene) arrive to house-sit so that Annie may get away.  Is that Bossy Sarah casting a lingering eye on Norman? It’s hard to keep up with who wants whom. Norman, it seems, wants all the women, except of course his very attractive but no nonsense wife whose been “called” to come collect him.  “I am rather fond of him, really. Being married to Norman is like owning a large unmanageable dog. He’s not very well house trained, he needs continual exercising and it’s sensible to lock him up if you have visitors!”

This inspired ensemble cast takes us through a joyous  if confusing romp in the garden. Tom (Eric Henderson) & Annie (Karin Page Henderson) have some very tender moments fraught with humorous misunderstandings. Sarah (Kristina Dahlene) and Reg (Michael McGill), always squabbling and insisting on their points of view, are endearing in there prickly way.  Then there is Norman (Paul Collins) and Ruth (Grace Carlozzi) who have the perfect marriage, in some respects, it is after all the 70’s in England, and they make us enjoy their machinations!

Director, Bob Gillet, has set this timely (yet deliciously retro) production in the round, which brings the audience right into the play. He directs with great gusto and appreciation for Ayckbourn’s humor.  The Light and Sound team, WW Lighting, create the delights of a summer day in the country, and the incomparable décor Master, Max Verga, completes the pastoral picture.

A silly British farce, laughter and nuance, and lots of humorous slapstick moments. Well worth a watch if you’d like to brighten up an evening – pull up a deckchair and escape to the warm, sunny garden for a couple of hours. Round and Round the Garden  continuing  at the Alley Theatre, 133 Centre Street, Middleboro October 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 at 8pm . Tickets are $20 General Admission and $18 Seniors & Students, Matinee $15.  See NRP’s website or FB page for more info: www.nemasketriverproductions.com

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