Thursday, November 13, 2014


Guildonians at Harold Wood Methodist Church Hall

The play's the thing ...”

David Tristram's “haunting comedy” gleefully blends Shakespeare and Blithe Spirit in a clever whodunnit with plenty of laughs, plus a scream and a shudder or two along the way.

A grotty bedsit at 2B Elsinore Gardens, where playwright Edward [Tim Tilbury] is discovered, in an impressive opening tableau, about to make his quietus with a revolver. He's rescued, not for the first time, we surmise, by his cuddly, camp landlord from downstairs [Tom Hind]. But, spoilers hard to avoid here, his ex-wife, the late Ruby – a lively, likeable Chrissie O'Connor – appears, like Peter Pan, through the open window and demands he avenge her “murder most foul”.
In Susie Faulkner's pacy production there's lots of Coward-ly fun and crackling cross-talk with this mischievous spectre, before the hapless Edward agrees to round up a suspect or two and catch the villain out as they read through his new play, remarkably similar to the “real-life” dialogue we've just heard, where one confession follows another, drinks are poisoned, and mind-games play out over the gin ...
Sounds complicated ? So it is, but witty and well crafted, and confidently delivered by an experienced cast. The principals are joined by Abi Farenden as an innocent actress, Enid Law as the grande dame Frances, and Iain Attiwell relishing every moment as the ageing luvvie in a strawberry wig.
The set, with its supernatural special effects, is well designed and nicely dressed, with movie memorabilia and some pretty posters from the professional house just up the road ...

1 comment:

Mary Redman said...

Susie Faulkner, director of this “haunting comedy”, was so taken by David Tristram's play that she immediately bought a script. The Guildonians have a strong reputation for their acting and production values going back many years, even proving it again with this somewhat patchy comedy drama.
Widower Edward attempts, or rather doesn't, to get his life back in order. His best friend Alex takes some unusual steps to get him out and about again. These involve a potential new girlfriend, a party, old friends and drink but Edward's own playwriting is interrupted by the mischievous ghost of Ruby, his late actress wife, whom he hated when she lived.
Now you might be forgiven for thinking that Messrs W Shakespeare and N Coward had already been taken apart by many other plays within a play, and ghostly reappearances of a dead wife intent on wrecking subsequent relationships. Not so, for Tristram's work, full of quotations from The Bard and naughty activities from The Master as it is, he still finds material (apart from the endless quotes) to entertain and amuse the Guildonians' audiences.
A great deal of this was down to the strength of the cast's acting abilities. Tim Tilbury looked and was absolutely right as the dishevelled, depressed and downhearted writer, protesting against Tom Hind's Alex and his many antics. Chrissie O'Connor's ghostly Ruby flitted around in a floating white dress, wreaking havoc with great delight, until circumstances brought a halt to her activities. Her extremely lively and perky characterisation gave energy to the production.
Blind date Glenda (Abi Farenden) an aspiring actress was shy at first but then annoyed and frustrated by the goings-on that she couldn't see. Thespian party guests included Enid Law's bright performance as Frances an ageing professional accompanied by, and striking sparks off, old pro Hedley played with great gusto by Ian Attiwell and his hideous orange wig. His Hedley was splendidly funny and drunk in charge of a wig. The wig even had a credit for performance in the cast list. Together Frances and Hedley fought each other with caustic remarks.
Susie Faulkner's team created the set design which had comedy moments of its own as when a large cupboard fell open revealing an astonishing collection of drinks bottles that Ed had squirrelled away.
So all in all an entertaining evening, especially the second act.

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