Plays ‘n’ Chips

Here’s a quick quiz: where can you get nearly three hours of entertainment and a ‘fish supper’ for £10? No looking at the title now. Drat! Too late! Yes, it’s at the Broadstone Memorial Hall, where I was treated to just that, courtesy of Broadstone Players – the entertainment is in the form of four, humorous, one-act plays, interspersed with some fish and chips and a couple of drinks from the licensed bar.

There is one small caveat: seven of the players are notionally first-timers on stage, but that doesn’t put off the audience. I was let into the secret of which were the beginners and which the seasoned performers but, for the most part, it wasn’t at all obvious.

Of the four plays this year, the first, In Room Five Hundred and Four, is considerably the longest, lasting around an hour. Without giving too much of the story away, it deals with the honeymoon night of a young couple in 1942, just as the young man, Harry (Calum Hearne), is about to embark on operations overseas. We were told before the programme started that due to the ill-health of one of the original cast performers, the part of the bride, Edie, was to be read in from the book, but the competent performance of the stand-in (Fiona Richards), complete with northern accent, made light of the difficulty and ‘the book’ was scarcely noticed. Supporting parts were by Bob Rankin as the manager and Fee Stewart as the older Edie. Excellent stuff: there is plenty of humour and a bit of a twist developed, which left us all wondering what had really happened. It is a bit over-long for the subject matter – but I can’t blame the players for that.

The second longer production Living Doll comes after the fish-supper break and it features a cast entirely of new performers. Kevin Sissons is well cast as a laddish, unattached, 39-year-old, content to eat pizza and watch sport on TV in his recently deceased mother’s bungalow – if only it weren’t for the his nagging ‘Aunt from Hell’ (Amanda Senitt) and her (unseen) daughter. His saviour, from an unlikely source, is Dolores (excellently portrayed by Sinead Ryan), who ought to be every young man’s fantasy – but somehow Kevin is not interested and this story doesn’t go there (it’s a family show!). Good fun.

The final pair of plays, Nun Break and Purgatory’s Just Around the Corner, were more in the fashion of comedy sketches. Nun Break featured another two newbies,: Lizzie West as Sam and Aycha Ates-Di Adamo as the nun of the title. It was short and punchy, with some well-delivered dialogue complete with cockney (or underworld) rhyming slang from the nun. I liked it a lot and we could well see more comedy from these two.

That same Fiona Richards who read in the part of Edie in the first play featured in her own right as a clipboard-wielding reception hostess to the afterlife in Purgatory’s Just Around the Corner; Bob Rankin (also seen earlier) played the newest arrival at the pearly gates. It’s a relatively familiar theme for jokes and sketches; this one was by local playwright James Leyland and first time director Suzanne Viney; it rounded off the evening but somehow lacked the integrity of the earlier pieces and the profane language grated on my ears.

The fellow diners/theatre-goers with whom I spoke all had a good time and commented on what excellent value it was and how good several of the performances had been. If you wish to make your own judgement, then you have further opportunities next Friday (9th) and Saturday (10th).