NEWPORT Playgoers presented The Gingerbread Lady by Neil Simon at the Dolman last night. The dark comedic drama, directed by Malcolm Davies, will run from November 14-18 and centres around club singer, Evie Meara, played by Clare Drewett, returning home after ten weeks in rehab to treat her alcohol addiction.

The single set, a fantastic example of seventies home décor, represented Evie’s New York apartment, which was the backdrop to her homecoming and dysfunctional relationships with her friends and daughter Polly (Kenna Gray).

This was a brave choice of play, being character driven, rather than plot-centric, but the cast pulled it off with a focus on what was, essentially, the relationships between a bunch of misfits: Evie, the alcoholic club singer; Jimmy, the washed up gay actor, played superbly by Paul Cotton; Toby, the age-obsessed 40-year-old friend (Angharad Jones); Polly, the teenage and naïve daughter desperate for a relationship with her mother; and Lou, the dead-beat, ex-boyfriend musician (Ryan Hillier).

The tension of the drama was broken through the dark humour and one-liners, with a comedic portrayal of Manuel (Dylan Secker) the delivery boy, at the start.

Clare Drewett played the drunk convincingly, reminding us of the deeper issues surrounding alcoholism and its impact in what is essentially a tragi-comedy.

Julie Benson