Odd Man In

Broadstone Players     War Memorial Hall, Broadstone  Jill Richmond  16 May  2023

Claude Magnier’s first comedy Monsieur Masure, published in 1956, was award winning and career launching and was later brought to the screen in 1968 with ‘What were you doing when the lights went out?’ staring Doris Day. Robin Maugham’s English adaptation Odd Man In was presented in London at the St Martin’s Theatre in 1957 to much success and enjoyed long runs around the world.

It is surprising with such a history that Odd Man In is not seen more often nowadays, although in some part this may I imagine be due to theatre groups preferring not to bring to modern audiences a time of 1950s housewives and where societal pressure on women was to focus their aspirations on whom they married. I am glad that Broadstone Players have taken the ‘risk’ and bring to us what is a fantastically fun play. The adaptation has a strong feeling of being inspired by the early 18th century French romantic comedy playwright Pierre de Marivaux’s work, one of my favourite writers and I hope to see more groups perform this play in future.

Odd Man In is a comedy of confusion brought to the lives of the Maxwell’s, George (Ben Marshall) and Jane (Kerry Stevenson), when a strange man, Mervyne Browne (Zach Braid) finds his way into their home and between them at an already unsettled stage of their marriage. It is a three-hander that relies on a growing fast pace, energy, strong characterisations, and good comic timing. All three performers are new to Broadstone Players and with Alyssa Thompson-Mitchell directing for only the second time they show promising new blood for Broadstone Players.

Kerry Stevenson demonstrated her clear acting experience and at times held the play together alongside the less experienced Zach Braid and Ben Marshall, the latter of whom was on stage for the first time, both though show great promise for the future with natural stage presence. The group suffered slightly from opening night nerves which affected the pace and overall performance at times, but they showed a strong chemistry amongst them which created a likability that overtook the weaker characterisations in places, where light and shade was sometimes lacking in the opening night performance.

The set is nicely constructed, and it was good to see real liquid in the drinks. The scene changes at times felt unnecessarily fussy and I would prefer to see actors make changes where required, especially where they are so minimal. More attention to detail is required for the rest of the run with the lighting and sound which often distracted from the performances with incorrect cues on opening night, but this can be easily corrected.

This play and all the elements do hold great promise and now opening night is out the way I hope the group will achieve their full potential with this production. That said, the audience were laughing for much of the play, and many were transported by the end so a good night was definitely had by all, me included. Alyssa Thompson-Mitchell created a good flow of movement with her directing. Well done to all for the hard work, it is no easy feat to learn so many lines and I was impressed by how few prompts were required and how all actors showed good stagecraft in coping with the unexpected.

Odd Man In runs until 16th – 20th May 19:30 with 14:00 Saturday matinee.