Chapter Two, by Neil Simon

Wharf Theatre, Devizes

Until Saturday

NEIL Simon’s dialogue is both a delight and a challenge for any actor. The delight is in its wit, intelligence and how the characters are revealed through their conversations.

The challenge is in understanding and delivering the subtle nuances. For although much of Simon’s work is comedy, the laughter arises from his astute perception of the human condition in all its moods.

The four actors in this production have truly got under the skin of their characters and, with the direction of Lewis Cowen, presented a well-timed, absorbing evening’s entertainment, encompassing a kaleidoscope of emotions.

Pete Wallis is George, a writer and newly bereaved widower, struggling to cope with his grief and the well-intentioned efforts of his brother Leo (Dominic O’Connor) to get him back into circulation. Wallis copes particularly well with George’s emotional roller-coaster. O’Connor provides an excellent foil, combining a Jack the Lad-type personality with a genuine brotherly sensitivity to George’s needs.

Louise Peak is Jennie, recent divorcee, whom Leo and Louise’s friend Faye (Jax Brady) conspire to pair off with a reluctant George. There is an excellent chemistry between the two women who present very different characters.

Jennie is neat, organised and reserved. Faye is warm, romantic, impulsive and clearly fed up with her work-obsessed husband.

Jax Brady has a particular gift for comedy as Wharf regulars will have noticed in previous productions and she uses it well here.

There is also the bonus of a musical backdrop from Simon and Garfunkel.

This is an excellent interpretation of a master playwright.

Jo Bayne