REVIEW: Sive at The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre, Havant

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The Bench Theatre Company is back doing what they do best – bringing little-known pieces to the local eye.

In John B Keane’s story set in rural 1950s Ireland, Sive is a teenager in love with someone eminently more suitable but being forced to marry a much older man for the financial gain of her family.

As Sive, Alex Eels is at her most effective when challenging the authority of her guardians and in her ultimate anguish, knowing that the marriage is to be forced onto her. Bench stalwart David Penrose is also on fine form as Thomasheen Sean Rua, the matchmaker behind the ill-fated pairing and – of all the cast – handles the intricate Irish dialogue with ease.

The wonderfully-faced Margaret Coles gives strong support as Nanna Glavin, Sive’s only friend, and Ben Tanner as Sive’s true love-interest, grieves eloquently at the end..

There’s a towering performance from Angie McKeown as self-interested aunt Mena who is willing to sacrifice Sive’s happiness for her own gain. Director Simon Walton could encourage a greater variety of pace in his cast, but that’s a small gripe in an otherwise good production.

Until tomorrow (Saturday, February 18).