Albert Perkins is blessed with a loving wife and cursed with a fearsome mother-in-law, Boadicea. When his good friend, Hilary Armitage, writes to him reminiscing about the good times they used to have, Boadicea reads the letter and determines to remove her daughter instantly from his clutches. Albert has a hard time explaining that the letter is perfectly innocent, and anyway, Hilary is a man. He isn’t helped when Hilary turns up, wearing a blonde wig and a glamorous evening dress. By the time Hilary manages to explain he’s come straight from doing his drag act at the local pub, it’s too late! As the plot unfolds, Perkins meets Virginia Brown, a young entrepreneurial artist. In a weak moment, he agrees to be her life model for a local competition, wearing only a potted plant. As you can expect, Albert’s troubles are far from over!
Having been established for almost ninety years, the New Forest Players are no strangers to the world of amateur theatre here in the South and it is clear that they have a very loyal and supportive following. Opening night nerves were evident in places, along with a rather busy prompter, but the play is entertaining, engaging and exciting. The group ensures that there is plenty of laughter, a number of witty one-liners – and plenty of innuendoes for good measure!
Standing out from the cast of seven, Martin Pitman excels in his role as Albert Perkins, bringing perfect comic timing to the play along with a brave appearance in ‘minimal’ clothing. He is strongly supported by Zoe Keith, who plays Virginia Brown with grace and innocence. They complement each other well.
Credit must be awarded to director Len Reid for his clever staging and for the well-rehearsed timing of the hilarious chase scene which involves the entire cast – pure comedy gold! He ensures that Norman Robbins’s first farce is a riot from start to finish.
The set is particularly impressive and to have such depth to the stage is a luxury. The costumes and various props nicely evoke the ’seventies period, along with a staircase and three separate entrances which really add to the chaotic plot. I was informed that the furniture and props were locally sourced and are available to purchase after the final performance this weekend – sadly, I don’t know anyone who is buying a house any time soon!
The diction from the whole cast ensures that every word is heard. It is to the credit of the company that they were able to recover from any opening night stumbles without greatly affecting the pace of the production, which provides an entertaining evening for all ages and runs until 22 July at 7.30.