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Sitting Pretty in the buff

PUBLISHED: 14:48 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 August 2010

As someone who s done his fair share of life modelling, I was interested to see how accurately the subject was treated in a recent play at the Bromley Little Theatre (BLT), writes Mark Campbell. Amy Rosenthal s Sitting Pretty tells the touching story of

As someone who's done his fair share of life modelling, I was interested to see how accurately the subject was treated in a recent play at the Bromley Little Theatre (BLT), writes Mark Campbell.

Amy Rosenthal's Sitting Pretty tells the touching story of middle-aged sisters Nancy and Nina. It opens as Nancy (Margaret Glenn), introspective sister of the outgoing Nina (Sue Williams), has just been told she's lost her job.

When Nancy sees a notice in the National Gallery café advertising for life models, she decides to try it out. At first she has no idea that the job involves being naked - but under the gentle persuasion of art teacher Philip (Matt Clowry), she soon finds herself au naturel in front of a bunch of complete strangers.

As anyone who has ever indulged in naturism or life modelling will avow, wandering around in your birthday suit can be a liberating experience. There's enormous freedom in being naked and the lack of 'body camouflage' is a great leveller.

Sitting Pretty certainly got that aspect right. After her initial trepidation, Nancy blossoms into the role of artist's muse, becoming more and more confident in every aspect of her life.

This is juxtaposed with her sister, who although ostensibly more successful, is soon revealed to be riddled with insecurities.

What didn't quite ring true was the old-fashioned idea that the job is in some way a turn-on; life modelling is a curiously asexual experience.

BLT newcomer Matt Clowry played the art teacher as a seedy Lothario with confused principles. His pupils - Caroline Shufflebotham, Julie Binysh, Emma Kerby-Evans, Frank Goodman and James Ozkan - were the standard middle-class character types of sitcomland, although all well played.

Ami Williamson as Philip's girlfriend, the exotically named Zelda, was very good. David Whiting, another BLT newcomer, was funny and beguiling as the sisters' lonely friend Max.

But it was the sisters themselves who stole the show. As Nina, Sue Williams was tough, fiery and attractive as the go-getting businesswoman and perhaps the obvious candidate to be whipping her clothes off in public. But instead it was Margaret Glenn as Nancy who went from depressed spinster to happy and confident single woman through the transformative power of public nudity.

Directed by Fleur Buckley, with Jan Greenhough's ingenious hinged set speeding up the many scene changes, this was a delightful character piece.

The next production at Bromley Little Theatre is Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan, from 11-19 June. Tickets: 07917 853621.

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