The Potting Shed: A Staged Reading
The Potting Shed
February 7, 2003
Graham Greene's metaphysical detective story, "The Potting Shed," was written as a drawing-room drama, a genre that has ceased to exist. Nevertheless, after a slow start, Scott Alan Evans' staged reading of "The Potting Shed," populated mainly with members of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre, was engrossing and, ultimately, very moving. Evans cast "The Potting Shed" exquisitely, with actors attuned to the subtle style needed.
As philosopher H.C. Callifer is dying offstage, why has his younger son, James, not been called to his bedside? And what happened in the potting shed 30 years ago that no one will talk about?
Played elegantly by Kyle Fabel, James is a man who has been emotionally stunted by his traumas, but who still has the courage to examine his past objectively. Suggesting Ann Todd or Glynis Johns, Jenn Thompson gave a beautifully nuanced performance as James' ex-wife, Sara, who still loves him. As the inquisitive niece, Anne, Stina Nielsen was utterly charming.
The veteran actors in the cast were particularly memorable. As James' uncle, an alcoholic priest who lost his faith 30 years ago, Simon Jones had just the right touch of cynicism and self-pity. Nicholas Kepros as James' psychiatrist ran that thin line between scientific detachment and emotional involvement. Darrie Lawrence as James' estranged mother and the philosopher's widow had the proper reserve for the wife of a celebrity who has protected her husband for years. Paddy Croft as the gardener's widow and Laurinda Barrett as the priest's housekeeper both had the right accent and sense of service to suggest British class structure.
In the underwritten role of James' older brother, John, Jack Koenig was able to delineate a stuffed shirt. James Prendergast as the doctor in attendance had trouble with his opening monologue, but became better as the evening went on.
The original music by David Macdonald added an eerie mood.