Thursday, February 13, 2014


Phoenix Theatre Company at Christ Church

When AmDram Goes Wrong – it's a popular subject for the playwright, from the Rude Mechanicals via Farndale Avenue to Chorus of Disapproval. And during their eventful history, Phoenix have done them all.

World Première, by one Charles Mander, is not in the same league, but certainly had its comedy moments, with frequent knowing laughter from the audience. Wickham ADS [not to be confused with the Company on the Hill] are staging the village hall première of the latest by their “ageing producer” [Syd Smith]. Among the all too recognisable members, Jo Fosker's put-upon prompt, Sarah Wilson's ball-breaking leading lady, Geoff Hadley's randy leading man, and Angie Gee as “Bunnie”, character actress and lush. Angie takes the part by the throat, with both hands, and gives a very enjoyably OTT performance. Just what this so-so script needs.
A sad irony that the actual prompt was not entirely redundant; even more in evidence in the linked pieces by Jim Sperinck in the first half.
Major Bennington-Smythe and his memsahib [Geoff Hadley and Helen Langley] are seeking to move from their Baker Street flat, driven to despair [and drink] by their celebrated neighbour strangling the Stradivarius upstairs. They end up in the no less stressful house of Dr Jekyll …

There are some diverting Spoonerisms and Malapropisms, some remarkable transformations behind the desk, a nice cameo from Bob Ryall as Lestrade, and an accomplished performance from young Liam O'Connor as the gorilla who turns into a dashing young blade in blazer and boater.
These three inconsequential comedies are directed for Phoenix by Tricia Childs.

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