On Golden Pond @ The Lace Market Theatre

I am willing Norman Thayer to die.
Can I get you a coffee? How ya doing? Ethel Thayer (Carol Parkinson) will ask you. She is pleasant and likable. Might be my last, jokes back Norman Thayer (Geoff Longbottom). Norman is Ethel’s blithe and jovial counterpart. Cheery, affable, cordial and nice: On Golden Pond is all these things. Riveting, heart- pounding, and jaw- dropping it is not. Ernest Thompson wouldn’t want to frighten you!

Thompson has centred his play on one of life’s paragons, a serene evening with the family. The play is set in the Thayer’s summer home built on the banks of ‘Golden Pond’, with a perfect view of the lake. Ethel and Norman’s house is well stocked with fishing rods, Monopoly, The Swiss Family Robinson, and the Thayer family themselves. To complete the picture the retired couple are joined by their grown-up daughter, Chelsea and some mild family drama. Life offers few pleasures that are both as satisfying and sweet as a night in with the family.

Thompson’s script recreates this scene frame by frame, cup of tea by cup of coffee and bad joke by retort. So vividly does Thompson’s script capture the family gathering that the same effect could be achieved by staying in! On Golden Pond is strikingly true to form. Who wouldn’t want to see their tranquil family holiday reproduced, in perfect detail, on stage?

Even if a nice night in with Ethel and Norman doesn’t entice you to leave your furry slippers and Twinings tea, The Lace Market Theatre is still worth a visit (although perhaps not in February). I would certainly recommend a visit when the days are longer and a chilly bus journey doesn’t stand between you and your theatre seat. As an independent theatre, run by ‘enthusiastic and committed’ volunteers, the theatre is certified to play what it feels is of interest to the public, and not what is of interest to elitist intellectuals.  This results in a mixed bag of pebbles and rough diamonds. Although On Golden Pond was a questionable script, it showcased local amateur talent. Parkinson and Longbottom tempered this ‘pleasant’ play with a witty rapport and lively chemistry. Parkinson in particular carried a strong stage presence. In addition this production featured the debut of 12-year-old Alec Boaden (as Billy Ray), providing an opportunity for up-and-coming talent.
Adorable theatre, but On Golden Pond was poor competition for Terry Pratchett and my hot water bottle.

Jenna Hutber

All images by David Alderson

On Golden Pond plays at The Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 16th February, for ticket information go to

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One Comment
  • Ann Miller
    20 February 2013 at 16:22
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    A little bit harsh Jenna..with a touch of ageism..I’the wrong side of 70 and my wife is 69 same age as Ethel & we have a 12 year old G/Son. The performance I went to was nearly a full house with a good cross section of different ages..every one appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed the show..regardless of the weather out side.. perhaps’ it’s an age thing. The play I thought was most enjoyable .with a certain amount of empathy for the characters that they were playing..perhaps it’s my age.May be in another 30/40 you might appreciate and prefer it more than an early night with a pair of furry slippers and a cup of tee.

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