Review of the Show
5 out of 5 stars – Simply buzzing with bittersweet humour
Felix Humble is an astrophysicist, brought back home after the death of his amateur beekeeping father. His relationship with his mother is, to say the least, restrained, as well as his obvious dislike for her friendship with opinionated businessman George Pye. Seeking to catch up with George’s daughter, Rosie, with whom Felix was involved in the past, this witty play is set in the beautiful garden and dominated by the, now empty, bee hive of his childhood home. So the story begins and we are quickly drawn into the emotions and struggles of Felix as he tries to come to terms with the death of his father in front of his self-absorbed mother, more focused on her recovery from cosmetic surgery rather than playing the part of the grieving widow.
New Forest Players are to be applauded. Quite simply, this was amateur drama at its best – the sparkling script, written with much humour and poignancy, was treated respectfully by director Kitty Cecil-Wright, and delivered magnificently by this talented cast. Mathew Stone excelled as Felix – his portrayal of this highly intelligent yet emotionally confused man with a nervous stammer was amusing, endearing and moving in spades. Anne Marie Stone as Mercy, the downtrodden friend of Felix’s mother was delightful – her monologue at the lunch table getting a well-deserved round of applause of its own. The rest of the cast also were strong – their characterisation was superb, the humour was never overplayed and the pace of the storyline was crisp throughout. The garden, tended to by understated and gentle gardener, Jim (David Hughes), was a delight and the lighting too was on point. Creating atmosphere for the audience in a modern school theatre is not immediately easy – perhaps some music as the audience arrived might have drawn them in more quickly? Occasionally, the sound effects were a little out of kilter but this may have been due to first night jitters. However, I am being picky – as soon as the play began we were consumed by the strange world of Felix and given much to laugh and think about.
When this play premiered at the National Theatre in 2001, it won the Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award. It is easy to see why. Intelligently written, moving and funny it deserves to be performed. New Forest Players have served it well.
Sweet as honey, but with the odd sting in the tail, this tale of bees, love and hopes is a must see!