STAGE REVIEW: The Nightingales - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, December 3 to Saturday, December 8, 2018.

POSSIBLY the body of this story, written as it is by William Gaminara - one of the stars of the popular television crime series Silent Witness, should initially be outwardly examined, then dissected and finally completely checked.

However, there’s nothing silent about this ‘body’ and it would be unfair to prod and probe too deeply into its inner parts.

Far, far better, to have it taken at face value. It’s neat and compact, humurous, quite cleverly constructed and considerably believable as it recounts the lives of a small group of six folk living in a typical English village.

Their characteristics, the strengths and weaknesses, are all easily recognisable and many of us have probably witnessed these traits in similar groups - such as book clubs, gardening groups, probably even darts clubs and skittlers.

This time it’s a cappella ensemble which meets to rehearse its songs in the village hall, which is where all the action takes place.

There’s Steven (Steven Pacey), the Cambridge-educated choirmaster; his second wife Diane (Mary Stockley) - strongly hinting her desperation to have a baby before advancing years overtake; history teacher Bruno (Stefan Adegbola), who adds a romantic aside to events; quick-quipping Ben (Phillip McGinley), whose professional tennis aspirations were cut short by injury, but admits he would never have been in the top 100; and his dishy wife Connie (Sarah Earnshaw), once an actress/model who is still seeking fame and fortune years after her one film scene in a James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan.

The ‘friendly five’ duly evolves into six when newcomer Maggie, played by the hugely adored Ruth Jones, creator of the television series of Gavin and Stacey, and Stella fame, is ‘adopted’ into the group. But then friction and old wounds begin to surface.

The choir perform throughout - including an opportunity to appear in a national talent contest.

And they don’t sound too bad either, especially their rousing rendition of You Raise Me Up.

Experienced director Christoper Luscombe, who has a considerable cv of show credits, coaxes humour, pathos and aggression from his talented cast who are clearly at ease in their roles, as the group learn of lust, marital strains, serious illness and its supposed treatment...

It’s all cleverly spiced with a hint of this and that, and while not exactly the world’s finest choral comedy it gives it a good shot.

The play reaches the end of its UK tour this weekend in Malvern and has arguably offered enough quality to ensure it will be reincarnated in years to come.