LAS1 week at the Arts Theatre Club the Catholic Stage Guild held one of its occasional play-readings. The very pertinent reason for giving this tentative airing to Someone at Risk, a new play by Gabriel Marvil, is that the play presents a family affair revolving round the burning topic of a ho rti on.
Unmistakably the author feels deeply about the scandalous present situation of London as an international abortion centre. as must all Catholics land many others). Thanks to Mr. St. John-Stevas and his splendid battle against the Abortion Act. CATHOLIC HERAI D readers may be perhaps even more familiar than the rest of the country with the tragic facts.
The family in the play, the Onslows, have two married daughters as spokeswomen for the opposite sides, one against abortion, one for. Mother, rather surprisingly, is for; the men of the family more or less neutral.
An ingenious plot and situation carry the argument well enough in confrontation to a symmetrical solution. The play consists of considerably more talk than action, and a "reading" tends to suggest a rather bleak style of performance. But the cast assembled by the Catholic Stage Guild gave the play a lively rendering.
Especially effective were Louise Lister's incisive sketch of the unsympathetic mother; Molly Veness, a tower of comedy relief as the tradition ally caustic daily help; and Susan Blake, a pretty and spirited youngster fresh fom Lamda, as the sister who thinks she would prefer abortion to an unwanted baby.
Anne Sherwin as the sister on the side of the angels, had a harder task, for unfortunately the author had not quite succeeded in surmounting the difficulty that ensnares many writers of plays with messages, in making the messengers more than mouthpieces.
If this character's dialogue could be freed from text-book language and brought to life, the play might well deserve a hearing on television or radio, which would more than justify the Catholic Stage Guild's enterprise in holding this reading.
Freda Bruce Lockhart