Feb 6, 2019
Category: News
Posted by: Keith Nuttall


'ALLO ALLO' directed by Jennie Scott-Reid , to be performed on Friday 31st May, Saturday 1st June and Sunday 2nd June, at Clavering Village Hall

Clavering Players Website

Snake in the Grass (Ayckbourn)

Annabel returns to her family home following the death of her father to meet her sister, Miriam. Walking in the unkempt grounds – complete with dilapidated tennis-court and summer-house – she meets Alice, her father’s  former nurse. She confronts Annabel, claiming Miriam sacked her in order to kill their father and has a letter to prove it. She demands £100,000 compensation, aware that Annabel is the beneficiary of the family fortune. Alice leaves and Annabel hears something in the tennis court, before Miranda turns up, who admits she was responsible for the death of her father.

The next day, the sisters argue about the money and Annabel reveals she has no capital, has had a heart-attack and has been abused by her ex-husband. Both recall how their father tormented their childhood and how  Annabel was brutally bullied in her tennis training. Alice turns up and accepts Miriam’s offer of a glass of wine. She dismisses an offer of £5,000 before collapsing from the poisoned wine. Her body is dumped down a well and Miriam says they will have to recover the blackmail letter. Alone, Annabel screams as a ball slams into the  tennis court netting. In the empty garden, scratching can be heard from the covered well. Annabel shows increasing signs of physical stress on her heart.

It is midnight and the lights in the house have failed and the sisters are using the storm lanterns. The letter – a forgery - has been recovered and Miriam confirms Alice is dead. Miriam points out the rocking chair by the summer-house, where her  father once caught her returning from a party in a silver dress and – it is implied - sexually abused her. Annabel enters the tennis court to confront her fears, but is frightened off by a bird and returns to find Alice’s sodden scarf. Annabel reveals the true story behind her failed marriage, the lanterns go out and Miriam disappears. Annabel hears her father’s voice and a volley of balls erupt from the court. The well opens, a bloodied Alice crawls out and Annabel has a fatal heart-attack.

Miriam and Alice are lovers and have set up a macabre plan to get Annabel’s inherited fortune. Miriam sends Alice to turn the lights on; they come on and fade. Miriam smiles and says “whoops” knowing Alice has been electrocuted. Wearing the silver dress from her youth she retrieves a cassette recorder with Miriam’s father's voice whispering Annabel’s name. Having killed her sister and lover, Annabel is terrified when the summer-house’s lantern flickers on, her father’s chair starts to rock and a voice calls her name.



Annabel Chester    Jean Schofield

Alice Moody          Sue Clatworthy

Miriam Chester       Jennifer Scott-Reid

Director                Ken Kemp


A review by Toby Allanson

(The Herts and Essex Observer)

'Serving up Plenty of Chills and Spills '

It was Arctic weather outside, but the biggest chills were  to be had inside Clavering village hall on Thursday night.

The Clavering Players' production of Alan Ayckbourn's creepy  tale of murder, betrayal and family dysfunction Snake in the Grass was superbly  acted, brilliantly directed and more terrifying than The Exorcist, The Ring and  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all rolled into one.

With the burden of the action resting on the shoulders of  just three actresses, the play could not afford any weak links and in Sue  Clatworthy (Alice Moody), Jean Schofield  (Annabel Chester)  and Jennifer Scott-Reid (Miriam Chester) none could be found.

The genius of Ayckbourn's play is the way he manages to  interweave menace with his trademark middle England comedy and the three women  proved versatile enough performers to deliver both the laughs and the heart  stopping shocks with aplomb. Clatworthy oozed malice was the weaselly nurse  intent on blackmail, Schofield was hilarious as a sister whose family loyalty  was tested to the limit, while Scott-Reid specialised in a barely contained  lunacy that made Norman Bates look about as scary as a Club Scout.

The interplay between all three actresses was excellent, but  the second act, which focused on the complex relationship between the two Chester sisters, was handled  exceptionally well by Schofield and Scott-Reid.

Like all good directors, Kenneth Kemp understood that the  biggest scares are prompted not by what you can see but what you cannot. The  crucial tennis court was left to the audiences vivid imagination, act two was  performed in almost total darkness and thinking about the disembodied voice that  brought proceedings to a close still sends a shiver down the spine.

This was thrilling theatre with a lasting, haunting impact  that had me sleeping with the lights on.