CHASE ME UP FARNDALE AVENUE, S'IL VOUS PLAITTrinity Methodist Music and Drama
Those intrepid Townswomen get their teeth into saucy French farce in their latest dramatic offering.
The hotel set boasts a Dansette and five doors, none of them working quite as it should. No French window, but a French maid called Fifi, and a cast of characters with ominously similar names.
The Farndale Ladies – and their one male member – have countless costume changes and false entrances, as they double and treble as wives, mistresses, friends, secretaries and the plumber's wife.
The confusion is complete, the plot as tangled as Minnie's knitting. So no surprise that it all got too much by the end, life imitating art; even the attentive prompt – Terrie Latimer – struggled to rescue the floundering actors.
Some priceless performances, notably Sue Bartle as Minnie [“Are we acting again?”] Robinson, physically superb as Roger, gamely struggling with the script, a last-minute substitution from wardrobe. Jenny Edler was scatty Felicity, Alison O'Malley the formidable Phoebe Reece, and Helen Wilson her sister Sylvia, cast as both Frank and Mary Carrott. Emma Byatt, an assured farceuse, also played a married couple, as well as a mistress. They all seemed adept at handling male parts, but their SM, Gordon [David Ehren], was pressed into service as a wonderfully wooden Barrett.
Much to enjoy in Tony Brett's production, from the invisible partition to the Cancan kickline finale. The surreal door sequence went very well, but the “this is my husband” routine could have been a little slicker. Many of the classic amdram pitfalls were featured: the garbled prompt, the nightmare drinks table, the wig and the moustache. And there was a memorable rendition of the Marseillaise, with spoons and washboard obbligato.
I hope that Brexit will not mean an end to their cross-channel ventures; I was sorry to have missed previous attempts, including the intriguing “Cave, girls, it's Fraulein Humperdinck”.
production photograph by Val Scott, who was also responsible for the amusingly authentic programme