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Plays ‘n’ Chips

Where else can you get an evening’s entertainment and a fish and chip supper for a little over a tenner?

Just entering the nearly full hall you can see Broadstone Players is a thriving Society. Every year their evening of one act plays showcases new directors and new talent. Three plays, three new directors, 15 characters with barely any doubling up, and three different prompts. Many companies only dream of fielding such a large team.

The evening started with Tunnel Vision by Sheila Hodgson and directed by Alyssa Thompson. Set on some platforms of the Northern Line, the genre of the play was hard to determine and made more so by too quiet actors, especially when heavy footed on stage. Because they know what should be said, directors don’t always know when actors are too quiet. It can be helpful to have fresh ears take a listen when rehearsing.

There were some very funny lines, mostly provided by Peter Leyland played by Roger Clayson, who had a unique, unusual delivery. As strange and ghostly(?) goings on progressed, signified by low-quality sound effects and a green light, actors would wander off stage before the blackout in which they presumably should’ve exited and hands would appear from off stage to rotate Exit/No Exit signs to gales of laughter. It took me a while but this apparently signified a change of platform.

All By Myself by Robert Scott and directed by Michelle Barter came next. It was altogether more polished and very definitely a comedy. Opening on Larry (the Loner) played by Peter Watson, fishing and despairing of seven years shipwrecked and alone, there was an immediate feeling of energy which only heightened as more and more people appeared who’d also been shipwrecked years before. It was a very silly, very slick performance with great timing. It was quite Monty Pythonesque at times. I’ll only say, “Wait for your laughs to die down”; we must’ve missed half the play!

Gosforth’s Fete by Alan Ayckbourn, directed by and featuring Chris Clayson as Councillor Mrs. Pearce, was the only play of the three I knew.

It’s difficult to direct and act in a play and I wasn’t persuaded otherwise this time. The play was easy-going and again difficult to hear. I was disappointed that there seemed very little attention to detail: nobody got soaking wet from the downpour, Councillor Pearce didn’t look like she’d walked through a ploughed field in the pouring rain, Stewart (Paul Stocker) had no passion on publicly learning of his fiancée’s infidelity. The culmination of the whole affair should be the malfunctioning tea urn that spews hot water everywhere with the frantic attempts of all but Mrs Pearce to contain the situation. Sadly, the urn had no water from what I could tell and instead of pandemonium there was a very quiet messing about with empty cups while Mrs Pearce upstaged the whole thing with her futile speech.

Still, it was definitely worth a tenner. There are more performances on 7, 13 and 14 September with a matinee on the 7 September that includes cream tea, yum.