Tuesday, September 27, 2016



Blackmore Players at the Village Hall

The intrepid Blackmore Players – one of the best village companies in the area – breathe new life into this old farce, penned back in '71 by Foot and Marriott, not alas credited in the programme.
The critics panned it then, but it did excellent business in the West End, and has been popular with am-drammers ever since.
It's a huge challenge, though, not least because an amateur group will lack the rehearsal time – and the audience previews – when slapstick and repartee can be honed.
And there were some slow moments at Blackmore, with the all-important doors poorly co-ordinated and actors waiting for an interruption.
But Andrew Raymond's production was great fun, boasting some excellent performances and a splendid set, with orange doors, lovely works of art, and an efficient, if bizarrely placed, serving hatch. An excellent period radio for Jupiter, but some other props failed to convince: the super-8, the “1001 Perversions” and the camp snaps, possibly due to a commendable ignorance of the ins and outs of erotica.
Matthew Pearson and Rebecca Smith were the hapless newly-weds who unwittingly get mucky books and blue films sent through the post [very retro], dressed respectively in a staid suit and a shorty negligée.
Visitors to their love-nest over the bank include his snobbish mother [a lovely character performance from Linda Raymond, even if several boroughs removed from Chelsea], his pompous boss [Keith Goody], Superintendent Paul [Ryan Stevens – is it me, or are policemen getting younger all the time ?] and two oddly assorted good-time girls [Lisa Matthews brandishing a rubber cudgel, and Ela Raymond, wielding a feather duster].
But the comedy gongs must go to Old Mr Haskell as the bank inspector with the Union Flag flying beneath his jim-jams, and Young Mr Haskell as the chief cashier – aka the Phantom Pornographer - who struggles to limit the damage the tide of Scandinavian filth might cause to the National Union Bank in this unnamed respectable Thames Valley town. Simon and Sam caught the style, both physical and vocal, to perfection, sliding sleepily down the wall, or losing the use of both feet. Sam, whose truly hilarious performance included not one but two suicidal leaps through the hatch, could happily have understudied Crawford at the Strand.

The cast thoroughly deserved the gales of laughter that greeted the better jokes, and the whoops and cheers on their tardy curtain-call.

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