My first words of praise go to the wardrobe department for finding such great examples of 1969 clothing - such as bell bottoms, psychedelic frocks and natty shoes.

Behind Closed Doors set in 1969 England, could have fallen terribly flat in front of a contemporary Whanganui audience but thanks to great direction by Graham Dack and fabulous performances by the cast, it rang true.

Janet Shaw's play about two couples at opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum who come together because their children are engaged shows that domestic violence can occur in any home.

Violent husbands Eddie Heptinstall (Richard Faaresi) and Vernon Pollock (Julian Annear) may be very different characters but they both beat and bully their wives - Pearl Heptinstall (Sarah Riley-Curtis) and Harriet Pollock (Annie Whitfield).


All four actors gave thoroughly believable performances which were quite challenging to watch at times.

Whitfield's portrayal of a victim and Annear's representation of a perpetrator were so convincing that one audience member called him a "bastard" at the end of one scene.

Eddie Heptinstall sees nothing wrong with biffing the wife who tries to stick up for herself and Faaresi manages to make his character transcend the time and place of the script.

His wife Pearl has invented imaginary fancy man Thomas (Nigel Irwin) who romances her as a Southern gentleman or attentive French man as she pleases.

He does have a tendency to go rogue though and Pearl is not happy when he turns up as an Australian.

Irwin's performance was brilliant and his appearances lightened the tension of the storyline at just the right moments.

Kevin Heptinstall (Tyler Huff) is a bit of a simple soul who also provides some comedic moments and is sometimes an unwitting buffer between his parents.

The young lovers - Sandra Heptinstall (Charlotte Elgar) and Tarquin Pollock (Ronan Shaw) are the straight players in the story.

They want their parents to sort out their problems and they represent a future that will be free from domestic violence (if only).

Behind Closed Doors: 7.30pm until March 10. Amdram Wanganui, 171 Guyton St. In conjunction with La Fiesta. All proceeds go to Women's Network. Tickets at Royal Wanganui Opera House $18 to $20.