A park bench with a rather full litter bin beside it , a backdrop of autumnal trees and a scattering of fallen leaves – a simple, but effective set for this two-handed, one act play.  It was clear from the outset as Diane Keen, as the elderly Ada, appeared with her cone of chips – disappointingly not wrapped in newspaper – that the large first night audience were going to enjoy this, the first play written by Steve Wood which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014.  Eastbourne was the last stop in its twenty-venue tour this autumn.

Ada is soon joined by the unkempt and equally elderly Tommy (Graham Cole) carrying a wine bottle from which he takes regular swigs.  He miraculously pulls a newspaper out of his pocket for her to wrap her chips in!  As they begin to chat, we learn a little about them both.  Tommy seems eager to swap ‘secrets’ with Ada who begins to recount her experiences of an unplanned trip to London to see ‘her son’.  Are these two people strangers?  They seem to be amazingly easy in each other’s company despite their contrasting appearances – to the extent that Ada even takes a sly swig from the bottle!  The story that emerges is both sad and funny, although there is very little drama in this quite ordinary story, the acting performances are convincing and superb.  Diane Keen is a past master at dialects and her adoption of a Mancunian accent for this performance is brilliant – well to a southern ear anyway!

It was quite a large crowd who had gathered in the bar after the first night performance to welcome this two strong cast and the company – in this case their Company Stage Manager, Pete Wallace.

Pete Wallace, Diane Keen, Graham Cole

Pete Wallace, Diane Keen, Graham Cole

Both Diane and Graham gave freely of their time chatting with the Friends.  We learned that this was Graham’s first visit to the Devonshire Park – whereas  Diane has been here several times before – most recently and around the same time last year in Susan Hill’s A Small Hand.  It was wonderful to see her back.

Diane is about to take up the role of Carole King’s mother, Genie Klein, in Beautiful  at the Aldwych Theatre and we wish her every success.