Still Life ★★★★★ The Mill at Sonning | Mar 30 - Apr 12, 2022

If you drop by the refreshment room at the Milford Junction railway station, you are likely to overhear some very interesting conversations. The bar of The Mill at Sonning has been wonderfully transformed into the set for Noël Coward's short play Still Life. Set in 1936, it served as the basis of David Lean's classic film Brief Encounter. This is a totally successful immersive entertainment that offers a high quality meal with a first-rate show. Unlike many immersive experiences that seem rather forced and artificial, this is a venue and experience that works. It makes perfect sense to be enjoying some food while getting a glimpse into the comic and dramatic lives of the refreshment room's staff and our fellow diners. Alasdair Craig as Alec Harvey and Rachel Pickup as Laura Jesson are both excellent as the accidental lovers caught between desire and duty. They do not overplay their parts and never fall into the melodramatic. They capture the values and sentiment of a different world and time, and they make their dilemma credible while hitting just the right poignant notes. It is an interpretation that is never parodic and never maudlin. Elizabeth Elvin as Myrtle Bagot/Dolly Messiters is comic gold. In both her parts she simply shines. Antony Jardine does an excellent job of playing off against her, and Emily Panes' rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You" was one of the show's highlights. Tam Williams has done a fine job of direction, using the space and keeping all of his audience involved. Don't miss this delicious experience of lives and loves from what seems to be a time gone by.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Andreas Lambis.

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