Enchanted April – The Mill at Sonning

Report on visit to The Mill at Sonning: Thursday 3rd April 2014

This was to be an evening of drama; but perhaps the drama came earlier than planned.
We were to be at Sonning by around 6.30PM in time for a pre-booked meal at the theatre before the play started. A coach had been booked, to pick-up in Denham, Gerrards Cross and finally in Amersham.
Those of us waiting in the Amersham Community Centre car park became increasingly concerned as the 5PM collection time went past and no half-full coach had appeared on the road outside. An empty executive bus was parked down by the Drake Hall, but only Ann Evans had the eventual inspiration to seek out its driver and ask her about her why she was there. Ann is not our President for nothing!
This was indeed our bus, but somehow there had been a misunderstanding about the pick-up order and it was now clear that those due to board from the first two locations must already have been waiting for almost an hour: poor things.
Our lady driver made good time to Gerrards Cross but the traffic heading for Denham was almost at a standstill, and Margaret Payne deserves an award for patience after waiting near the Shell garage for an eternity – how glad she must have been to see Chairman Jonathan, who had rushed to find her and explain the mess-up.
Every good dramatist knows that one disaster must be heightened by several others and once we were on our way, up the M40, the next installment became clear. Due to a major accident further up the motorway, our coach was once more crawling and the prospects of our meal were vanishing into the distance. And there was the dilemna: if we could leave the motorway at all where should it be (there were jams all around).
The theatre had been alerted to our lack of progress and problems continued until beyond Bisham. Eventually we were able to speed up and our driver, calm throughout, got us very efficiently through the last part of the journey. The sprint into the theatre, at just before 7PM, didn’t create any time for drinks but at least it got us into buffet queue for our (late) first course. Phew!
The play that evening was Enchanted April, by Matthew Barber. Yes, we were going in April; but to call the evening so far “enchanted” was a bit of a stretch! Yet as the first actress started to set the scene it became clear that we were to be treated to a feast of good acting, and an intriguing plot. The story follows the adventures of four British women who rent a villa in Italy for the month of April. They arrive with their problems and their anxieties, but flourish in the sun and the beauty of their castle location. For those not knowing the story (like me) there were surprises to come and, although the audience numbers were disappointing, the production was certainly not. The applause at the end showed how well the cast had portrayed the characters and why it was worth the effort to get there to see it.
And the happy ending?….Our journey back was uneventful!

Many thanks to those Committee members who arranged this enjoyable evening for us.

David Bevan