"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Arts and Drama Society at the Tractor Shed
and Hoile were once names to conjure with in our villge halls and our
weekly reps. My colleagues and mentors Peter Andrews and Gilbert
Sutcliffe cut their critical teeth on the kind of pot-boilers that
are now all but forgotten.
Ladies is a classic example, snatched from oblivion by the
enterprising Peter Jones and his LADS.
straight back to the old am-dram days here, when cues were missed,
corpsing was rife and the prompt worked harder than some of the cast.
particular farcical comedy needed a deal of concentration at the
start, when names are dropped and schemes are laid. All to do with
what is coyly called a “romantic weekend” in a lovely cottage in
deepest Surrey, threatened by the untimely arrival of the mother
[Beth Greaves] together with the awful Eric [David Hudson]. Decency
must be preserved, so the Maiden Ladies of the title must be
impersonated, giving Reggie [a very enjoyable performance from
talented farceur Daniel Turnbridge] a chance to slip into several
sets of female attire, variously aided and thwarted by his valet
Martingale [Arthur Barton], as they make a couple of Charley's Aunts
Royan's Calerie looked and sounded a woman of the period in her 30s
slacks; Jemma Walshley's blonde Sylvia seemed closer to Essex than
Strange did his best with the rather thankless Heath, and I enjoyed
Moir Gunfield's formidable vicar's wife.
Wright was the city spiv sent to plunder The Cedars, but the plum
cameo here was Robin Warnes' district dick, a prototype Truscott with
a nice line in physical comedy and a disconcerting tic which made his
name a strangulated “Crutch”.
admired the impressively massive beam across this late Tudor cottage,
and there were many nice moments of pure farce – the whisky bottle,
the moving table, for instance. But elsewhere we were in Farndale
country, with some prime examples of coarse acting, my favourite
perhaps the unglazed door.
John Folkard remarks in his excellent programme note, this kind of
play is almost pre-history to today's young actors. All credit to Latchingdon for bringing it back in all its ghastly glory.