Redlynch Players have joined forces with Fordingbridge Players to take audiences back to simpler times in their latest production The Village School.

Sympathetically adapted for stage by Ron Perry, the play is from the first novel in Miss Read's Fairacre series and is a delightful and amusing memoir from a headmistress's perspective of life in a 1950s English village school.

Through Miss Read's discerning eye, we meet the villagers of Fairacre as she guides us through an autumn term and introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters.

Gina Hodson is wonderful as the wise and kind-hearted headteacher Miss Read, who stoically manages the villagers through their trials and tribulations, while parking her own concerns about the future of her school and refusing to be dragged into any gossip or village politics. Central to the production, she introduces each scene and character, narrates the story and also does a great job of carrying a tray of tea backwards and forwards!

Mark Newman is brilliant at bringing the childish humour to life as mischievous schoolboy Ernest, doubling up as the stuffy, indifferent Mr Salisbury.

All the performances were impressive, from Andrew Harrison-King, as the dependable, but absent-minded Reverend Partridge; Lloyd Perry, as the vociferous parent Mr Roberts; Jill Saunders, as teacher Miss Clare; Graham Collier, as school caretaker Mr Willet; Nicki Salmond as the ditzy Minnie Pringle and all the supporting cast too.

I must give particular mention to Sarah Newman, who is spectacular as the irascible school cleaner Mrs Pringle, who knows everyone in the village and always has to have the last word. Sarah is fantastic at portraying her irritability and sharp tongue and had me chuckling at her mere entrance into a scene.

Director Ron Perry has cleverly set the production on a central stage running from one end of the hall to the other with a blackboard and headteacher's desk at one end (to create the school), a small dresser and dining table at the other (for Miss Read's home) and a handful of stools in between. This immerses the audience into the production and works particularly well in the public meeting scene, where muted tuts and jeers from the cast make you feel you are part of proceedings.

Miss Read takes us from one set to the other, with scenes poignantly divided by superb music from Irish singer and composer Enya.

With plenty of humour, this excellent production is a powerfully moving insight into post-war village life.