Mr Bennet’s Bride by Grassington Players

Grassington Town Hall

MARKING the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen this play provides a prequel to Pride and Prejudice.

One of the main characters, James Bennet, was portrayed as a churlish 29 year old who is challenged by his father to marry in order to keep ownership of the family estate.

The other character, Emily Gardiner, was the flighty but beautiful 17 year old daughter of the Bennets’ attorney.

The performance takes some time to rev up, as often happens when a play has to explain context.

However the characters themselves took shape quickly and were well played.

The costumes were gorgeous and most of the acting was of a high standard.

Although it was difficult to single out individuals, two partnerships stood out.

In the first scene at the attorney’s house, Mrs Gardiner and her daughter were played with sparkling vivacity by Zarina Belk and Katie Milner.

Their barnstorming ensemble gave the production real energy and their characterisations were faultless.

In the Bennet household the antipathy between father and son, played by Andrew Jackson and Tom Powell, eventually melts into warmth.

Both actors have very attractive voices and act with great sensitivity and their final scene together was very moving.

Whilst I would be surprised if this play becomes a regular with professional companies, it provided an amusing evening and lots of work for the Grassington Players' backstage and front of house crew.

John Anderson

Doric String Quartet

Skipton Town Hall

IMAGINATIVE programme planning given today’s down-streaming facilities is a crucial element for a concert in this era where anyone can select anything from an immense spectrum of music.

The Doric’s programming was clever. It began with Mendelssohn and then craftily sandwiched a contemporary British composition between Mendelssohn and the ‘after interval’ Haydn.

The quartet by Thomas Ades, composed in 2011 was played with great conviction. It is not easy listening or easy-play.

During the interval I overheard comments to the effect of, "What was that about?"

Why does contemporary music engender such a reaction? It is our custom to sit politely wondering if it is our ears or our musical education that is at fault.

The Doric players are all outstanding musicians. The anacrusis up-bow entries in the Mendelssohn were beautiful and proved the total coherence of the group.

It is easy to forget the secret of excellence in an ensemble rests on a fraction of a second in co-ordinating four individuals.

The second part of the programme suffered from a tiny glitch in the variation movement which served to remind one this quartet had not been generated by robots, nor engineered by a ‘sound-man’.

All in all, it was a good start to Skipton Music's 2017-18 season.

Adrienne Fox