HARMONY is the key for a choir singing together but what happens when a newcomer arrives in a group – and is not quite what she seems?
That’s the intriguing start of The Nightingales, which is billed as a comedy and certainly has many deft and witty touches in the script but underneath lurks the pathos and half-truths hidden in many people’s lives.
Best known from television’s Gavin and Stacey, Ruth Jones is outstanding as Maggie, the voluble outsider who becomes a catalyst for change in the cosy community choir’s dynamics. She encourages the audience to have sympathy for her by speaking directly of her experiences and feelings but, as the narrative progresses, there is growing disquiet about her background, suspicions shared by her fellow characters.
The other five actors – Steven Pacey as choir leader Steven, Sarah Earnshaw as Connie, who has ambitions and can really sing, Philip McGinley as her down-to-earth husband Ben, Mary Stockley as the devious Diane and Stefan Adegbola in the difficult role of lothario Bruno – have an easy-going rapport, making for believable characterisation.
With a talent contest being the hook which encourages the choir to change direction, there are nods to many facets of human nature in the neat script but, as Maggie sums up at the end, people are enigmas.