My Second Best Bed was entered for the 2017 Southern Counties Drama Festival. We received the following review from Tricia Whyte of Oxted Barn Theatre where the festival was held.
This play is a tour de force for writer, director and stage manager Barry Syder. He is clearly passionate about his subject and he combines myth and fact to give an
unusual twist to the relationship between Shakespeare and his family. The play is historically accurate and the drama is brought to life with plausibility and skill. The setting is simple as
befits a play that goes on tour. A settle, writing table and chair are the only furniture and mirror the simplicity of houses in the Elizabethan era. The lighting is straightforward and the
introductory music sets the atmosphere of Tudor England. The costumes were simple but effective and they enhanced the portrayal of the four characters. Perhaps Judith's dress could have been more
flamboyant and Ann's not quite so white - a grey shawl may have toned down the starkness. The curate's and Susanna's costumes were accurate representations for the characters. Susanna played by
Kathryn Attwood and Judith played by Emily Hale were believable as sisters and played out the sibling rivalry and banter successfully. They provided a loving and warm portrayal of family life in
the Shakespeare household. This was particularly noticeable in the anecdotes about their father and the tenderness displayed towards their mother at the end of the play. Gill Sutton as Anne had a
small but endearing role and conveyed the bewilderment of dementia very poignantly. Tom Hounsham as the star struck curate was a convincing foil for the three women. All the actors were
persuasive. They had good voice projection and range but perhaps there could have been more variety of pace within the dialogue. This was an interesting and novel play created with warmth and
passion. As an opener for the festival it set the bar high and promises great things for this new and exciting company.
Kathryn Attwood was nominated by the adjudicator for Best Adult Actress.