BROADSTONE Players refer to their latest production as a ‘feel-good’ play and it is certainly that, but like all good comedy writers, Frank Vickery also provides insights into the human condition – in this case a marriage that has long since gone stale, the nature of infidelity and the unexpected strength that a middle-aged woman finds to recover from the collapse of her safe but boring world. It has some genuinely funny lines but the comedy comes more from the characters and is well-sustained through a long play; it might be an even better piece if it were slightly shorter and tauter. Nevertheless, it is impossible not to be caught up in the tension as the moment arrives when the main character has to make the decision: to return to a safe, known existence or to continue on the unexpected trajectory into which circumstances have thrown her. There was actually an excited gasp from the first-night audience as she revealed her choice.
I have had the privilege to watch several of the Broadstone pantomimes over the last few years and it has always amazed me that somehow they manage to achieve a village pantomime feel - although, to the casual observer, Broadstone is a virtually contiguous suburb of the large conurbation which is Poole. The 'shoehorn' capacity of the hall is listed as 180, but 100 or so is probably more realistic and its acoustics are such that Broadstone Pantomime Productions doesn't use amplification and the musical accompaniment consists of the familiar figure of Jean Roach on upright piano - it all seems to work and the vocal projection of most of the performers ought to be instructive to so many modern performers, who are lost without a personal mic. This opening night performance played to a capacity crowd, which included a host of brownies and their associated guiders.
THE only problem about a thirty-year-old smash-hit thriller like ‘Deathtrap’ is that quite a lot of the audience have seen it before or at least know what is going to happen. However, even if the shocks of the plot are familiar, the play is still ingenious enough to be enjoyed in a well-staged production, which is certainly what the Broadstone Players give us. And if you don’t know the story, get along to the War Memorial Hall before Saturday and you are in for a treat. There was a certain amount of first-night hesitancy, often caused by the cast not being entirely confident in their lines, but doubtless the production will add pace and polish as the week goes on.
IT is always the curse of the critic to see the first performance of any show, with all the inevitable glitches, stumbles and hesitance. Most theatrical performances develop throughout the week and are fully honed by the final Saturday – much to the horror of the Director, who has to watch their creation blossom, often away from their original intention. Broadstone Players’ Educating Rita is a case in point. I did enjoy the performance as a pleasant play by an amateur company, but Educating Rita is so much more than that. It is a play full of passion, humour and pathos, but none of these were present last night. The audience, to be fair, did find the obvious things funny (the joke about amateur performances got the biggest laugh of the evening), but the subtle nuances were entirely lost to them and I doubt very much that any understood the use of the door (that was hard to open) as a metaphor. So do I comment on what I saw, or do I assume that this Two-Hander will develop over the next few days and be all that it should be?
FOR centuries, playwrights have used comedy to explore serious issues – think ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and, in modern times, the plays of Alan Ayckbourn and Alan Bennett. Richard Everett is not in that league, but this play does have the audience both laughing at some extremely funny lines and leaving the theatre with plenty to think about. Love, faith, forgiveness, loss, the nature of truth: these are just some of the themes that Everett weaves into the play. He mostly brings off what is a very difficult balance, although when passions are running at their highest in Act 2, some of the smart one-liners grate.
THIS play was billed as ‘The Unforgettable Comedy’ in the publicity used by Broadstone Players and I have to say that I disagree as I came away completely confused, bemused and slightly bored by this production.
To be fair it was not all down to the Players who tried their best with a monotonous and very old fashioned script and storyline.
THIS is a difficult play to classify. The clunking pun in the title suggests a comedy thriller, but there are two vital requirements for a comedy thriller, that it should be comic and that it should be thrilling, and this play by Ian Hornby is neither.
Very suitably performed in the War Memorial Hall, a hall that, no doubt, is hired out for a variety of uses to clubs and associations throughout the week, Broadstone Players’ production of Out Of Focus is well cast and well performed.
THE Broadstone Players’ ‘Plays ’n’ Chips’ evening is one of the highlights of their season, with a fish and chip supper being served during one of the intervals and a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The evening of three one-act plays also has a purpose, though: to give parts to newcomers and to allow existing members to try new skills, like directing.
IN any normal job, and in the world of professional theatre, there is usually a period of training. In amateur theatre that luxury is denied to most people, so if they are lucky enough to be cast in a production, whether acting, doing sound and lighting, prompting, writing or even directing, the results of their efforts, good or bad, will all too soon be witnessed by the paying public - and with even the smallest shows these days costing mega bucks to produce, it’s a big risk.
AS far as I know, there’s nothing quite like it in the area: an evening of three one-act plays with fish and chips being brought to you in one of the intervals. It makes for a unique atmosphere and puts the audience in a jovial mood, which may be intentional as one of the purposes of the evening is to showcase new talent that has recently joined the society. The fish and chips are extremely good – some of the best I’ve had – and the slick organisation meant that everyone is served quickly and efficiently. As for what is happening on stage, it is rather like the curate’s fish and chips: excellent in parts.
THE Players’ evening of one-act plays with fish and chips clearly gives the public what they want, as evidenced by the fact that what began as just one evening’s entertainment has, over the years, stretched to four such evenings.
It’s a good concept, giving priority of casting to new members while allowing existing members to try their hand at something they haven’t tried before, such as directing. Invariably, of course, some old hands are part of the acting mix if there are not enough newcomers, and ‘new’ does not necessarily mean inexperienced as those people may only be new to that company, not to performing. As a result, the end product is generally pretty impressive, as is the fact that everyone was eating their fish and chips within five minutes of the curtain coming down on the first play.
For many years I reviewed restaurants, so let me start my reverting to that role and reporting that the fish ’n’ chips served in the interval were excellent: tasty fish, with the batter and the chips to just the right degree of crispiness.
RAY Cooney has been probably the most notable writer of farces since Ben Travers, and this highly ingenious piece rates among his best. Yet the recent film of ‘Run for your Wife’ was placed by a unanimity of critics among The Ten Worst Films Ever Made. The reason? It is a piece which only works well in the theatre because it needs the confined dimensions of the stage for its full effect. Much of the humour comes from the one set representing two flats at once, one in Streatham and one in Wimbledon, which leads to characters having telephone conversations while sitting at opposite ends of the same sofa!
I am not normally in favour of mentioning the entire cast just so that they can see their names in print, but this was a cast of only three: Estelle Hughes, as Annabel, plays a returning émigré to Jan Smiles as Miriam, the younger sister who was left at home to look after their irascible father in his dotage until his recent demise. Val Smith plays Alice Moody - a dismissed former geriatric nurse to the late father - who purports to have evidence to suggest that Miriam overdosed the old man on tranquillizers and pushed him down the stairs.
Reviewed Tuesday 15th May. Apologies for late posting but Editor on holiday!
I love a good farce and was really looking forward to attending Broadstone Players’ rendition of Touch & Go this week, directed by Barry Baynton. There was close to a sell out crowd for the opening night in the War Memorial Hall, and most of the audience seemed pleased with the performance.
AS ‘Travels with my Aunt’ is adapted from Graham Greene’s amusing but fairly conventional novel, you might expect an amusing but fairly conventional evening. Instead, this is a very odd play indeed. Five actors play some twenty parts, but one of those parts is played by three of them at different times, often with all three on stage together. The original performance used four male actors, but by the nature of the piece, the director can put as many or as few as he wants on stage, and give them whatever parts he pleases. There is a sort of plot, which vaguely follows the plot of the novel, but it is not very relevant. Rather, the play is a vehicle for virtuoso displays of versatility by the performers.