Unfortunately Martin Dale had a family bereavement and was unable to play Reverend John Shillitoe on this evening. In his place, Robin Walker stepped up to the mark and was a splendid substitute, coping with the lines with only occasional help from notes. However his first entrance was noticeably minus his dog collar but this was corrected by his next appearance!
The story was woven around the inmates and officers of a women's prison somewhere in the UK. The action (the 'enquiry' of the title) took place entirely within the warden's office and revolved around an incident involving an assault on one inmate, Kate Walmer, serving a sentence for killing her severely disabled baby. She was played very sympathetically by Holly Seijo, dramatically threatening to jump out of a window and collapsing on cue, as the script demanded.
Tania Todd, as the deputy governor, Frances Treadgold, gave a very convincing performance as an ambitious authority figure but with misgivings about some disciplinary actions. The governor, Laura Fenn, firm but fair, with years of experience under her belt but looking towards retirement, was played by Sue Williams. She gave a strong performance, showing her concerns about whether Frances was ready to step into her shoes or if she would be too 'soft' in dealing with the prisoners.
Marcy was the prison trustee, who popped in and out of the governor's office, purportedly clearing away crockery and cleaning, whilst pocketing cigarettes! She was played hilariously by the diminutive Edna Walker, who overcame her one memory lapse by turning the tables and asking 'what did you say?' of Frances Treadgold, rather than looking blank and waiting for the prompter!
Louise Friend also gave a creditable performance as the prison doctor, Janet Graham MD, bantering with the Reverend and providing clinical evidence where required.
There was a surprise 'flashback' scene towards the end of the drama, in which Kate and her husband Tom, played by Mark Hollidge, reveal the truth of the death of their daughter. There was a forceful interaction between the pair and it was a very moving denouement leading up to the final resolution. However the play closed on a note of uncertainty, leaving the audience not knowing exactly how the new revelations would be resolved by the governor.
The other parts were ably filled by the remaining members of the Society. All members were involved in this 200th production and congratulations should go to them all. This was another entertaining evening which held this audience member's attention throughout.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community