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David Porter » Reviews » Five Finger Exercise

Five Finger Exercise

Southwold Summer Theatre

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 10 September 2012

The Southwold season of drama ends with a little gem from the pen of Peter Shaffer, who gave us Equus, Amadeus and Black Comedy.

Five finger exercises are piano training techniques in dexterity, strength and coordination. A piano is the background motif as a dysfunctional family face growing up, ghosts from the past and personality struggles.

Iain Ridley plays the troubled young man, at university but still bound by home and loyalty ties, on the threshold of real adulthood. Ann Wenn is his mother, calm and proper on the outside, but a turmoil of frustrated emotions inside.

Michael Shaw is his self-made father, uncultured and vulgar, yet holding his family with a powerful grip. Holly Jones is the teenage sister, just discovering that life is not easy.

Peter Hoggart plays the German tutor/lodger who bottles his painful past within while struggling with the family he cares about tearing each other apart, almost as an ‘exercise’.

They are a fine cast, doing an excellent job of mutual loathing, outward respectability and comic moments. It’s an absorbing and intellectually challenging performance well worth the evening out.

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