Home » London Theatre Reviews » The Mansion Trilogy – Beckenham Place Mansion | Review

The Mansion Trilogy – Beckenham Place Mansion | Review

Beckenham Place Mansion was built 1760-2, since then it has had a multitude of uses including a boys’ school and sanitorium as well as being home for twenty years to the Mander and Mitchensen theatre collection. Today it is owned by the London Borough of Lewisham and is available for community use, having been partially refurbished using a National Lottery Grant. It sits in extensive parkland atop Beckenham Hill and, judging by my visit, is certainly a mecca for those who live nearby.

One of the community groups referred to above is Orisun Productions who presented the production under review.

The Mansion TrilogyThe site-specific Mansion Trilogy was staged very simply in one of the rooms of the Mansion and consisted of two 17 minute monologues. “Souls, trapped for an eternity…. are desperate to tell their tale”.

The first of these, Crack The Spine, by A C Brown, was performed by Shereener Browne and dealt with a child’s powerful imagination and what the child does when that is taken away. She was at her most effective when projecting her voice to the back of the room and when not using her walking stick which seemed to inhibit her characterisation. Unfortunately, as there was no raised platform let alone a stage, when she sat on the floor it was difficult to see her.

The second monologue, Smiling, written by Chantelle Dusette and performed by Sarah Yeboah, had the actor imagining what it was like to be a biracial woman in eighteenth-century England and featured music of the period by Chevalier de Saint-Georges who was born in Guadeloupe but lived for much of his life in Paris.

Lighting and Sound were by Simon Brand. Sound especially was superb with creepy noises during Crack the Spine as well as the music, never too loud and always appropriate. Lighting was of necessity basic, but would have been more effective if both actors had remembered to stand so that their faces were lit, thereby aiding communication with the audience.

An unusual, if brief, way of spending a Saturday afternoon.

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

It’s Christmas at the Mansion and some former residents are getting restless. Three souls trapped for an eternity within the walls of an old and beautiful building are desperate to tell their tale to anyone who will listen. A Christmas ghost story.

Smiling by Chantelle Dusette
Inspired by the real-life daughter of Adolph Reinhard von Rothkirch a prince born in the 1700s in an area of Africa now known as Cameroon, Smiling imagines what it’s like to be a biracial woman in 18th century Europe. This story is a timely reminder of the influence of the African diaspora in Europe.
This piece will feature music from Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a Black composer from Guadeloupe born in the 1700s.

Crack the Spine by Mark A C Brown
A child’s imagination is a powerful thing. It can turn a plant into a horse. A pond into an ocean. A garden into a magical realm of joy and adventure. But when that world is taken away how can they fill that void. How can they grow up when the world they were thrown out of is so much better? How can they recreate that magic? And what will they do to reclaim it? This monologue will feature an excerpt of music composed by Ian Arber.

Top of the Mountain by Mark A C Brown (not reviewed)
Inspired by Bill Richmond, a former slave born in 1763 in British America who rose to boxing fame in England, we join the story on Christmas Eve when Bill decides to hang up his gloves for good.

11th and 12th December 2020
https://www.orisunproductions.com/

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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