A friend had commented on this play that it was about someone who attempts to commit suicide (several times) – which was not a particularly enticing prospect. It is, in fact, a very engaging and well written comedy by Eric Chappell (also known for a number of successful television sitcoms – including Rising Damp. The humour of the evening should have been apparent by the entry in the programme cast list ‘Rubber Plant – Ficus Elastica’ – and you should keep your eye on that Rubber Plant!
It is fairly unusual to have an amateur opening night on a Tuesday, but the audience, although only about 30 of us tonight, was nevertheless very enthusiastic – bursting into applause on the revealing of the smart living room set: comfortable furniture, books, French windows upstage left and fireplace upstage right [from the audience perspective]. The good start was no flash-in-the-pan, as the cast of 5 (not including the Rubber Plant) were well rehearsed, well cast and made the most of this excellent script and its humour. A number of character catch phrases and lots of situational comedy – some predictable, but a lot veering away from the predictable – kept us well entertained. If you haven’t seen it before it will keep you guessing – and I am not about to spoil the fun by giving away the plot.
The show features Steve Watton as Walter Bryce, Helen Johns as his depressive wife, Celia; Denise King as Walter’s secretary, Angie; and David Wickham as the Samaritan, Withers; but the heavy-lifting was done by Mick Wright as Vincent, whose precise role I will leave you to discover. Diction and vocal projection were largely flawless and prompt entrances and exits kept us on the edge of our seats throughout.
I was rather puzzled by the entr’acte music, which seemed to bear no relation to the plot or the period (unless I am missing some essential clue); there was an overlong hiatus, with curtain closed, toward the close of the 2nd act, and the prompt, though generally little exercised, seemed to jump in rather hastily, and probably unnecessarily, during occasional pauses.
I have seen some good comedy dramas in my years as a theatrical reviewer, including at least one here at the Kinson Community Centre but, those minor niggles aside, this has to be the best I have seen and I encourage you to go and enjoy it if you can. At only £8.50 it has to be one of the best value productions on the local amateur scene – but there was nothing amateur about the performance I saw tonight.
The show runs again on Thursday 22nd, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th at 7.30pm.