The iconic characters from the novel/film /play of “The Graduate” were brought vividly to life In this hilarious black comedy, chosen by Penrith Players for their production at the Theatre last week. Terry Johnson’s excellent script gives great scope to the principal characters, chief of whom is of course the Graduate himself, Benjamin. Rob Pottinger very cleverly portrayed both Benjamin’s strangely disillusioned state of mind and the diffident enthusiasm with which he proceeds down what looks like a self destructive path – ably assisted by one Mrs Robinson. Louise Hodson gave a wonderfully comic/sexy and ultimately heartbreaking performance as this equally disillusioned character. Both Ben and Mrs Robinson command the wide and excitingly “60s” set, moving from bedroom to bedroom with style and a fine sense of comic timing. Elinor Rooks as Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine, and the later focus of Ben’s amorous intentions, does an excellent job of coping with not only Ben’s contradictory behaviour but also with an unmaternal mother while at the same time portraying her own unique version of indecision. A complex part very intelligently done. The “chemistry” between these main characters was the beating heart of this ambitious production.
The three innocent and “normal” parents necessarily have difficult roles, as second fiddles to the stellar Mrs Robinson; Jonty Rostron, as the more sinned against than sinning Mr Robinson handled his women folk with a convincing repertoire of various states of shock and horror. Benjamin’s benighted mother was played by Andrea Dunn, who gave an excellent cameo of a caring if very confused parent, while Phill Whiteread gave a lively performance as Benjamin’s Dad.
The supporting members of the cast, played by James and Tom Shorrock, Mick Rogers and Tash Shaw very humourously peopled the wide ranging venues which the excellent set accommodated.
As ever, the unsung heroes of the backstage and technical teams produced their invisible magic with style. Double plaudits must go to Nik Shaw for his roles not only as the Director, but also as mastermind of the excellent lighting and sound.