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Play On

Stanford Hall Theatre - Wednesday 8th to Saturday 11th October 2003

Written By Rick Abott

Directed By Stuart Bailey


ImageIt was an evening of 'practice not making perfect' at Stanford Hall Theatre last week as the Falcon Players presented the fast-paced comedy farce "Play On".

The play follows the trials and tribulations of a group of amateur performers attempting a serious drama and trying to fine tune their performances ahead of opening night. It was practice, practice, practice as the personalities, humour and acting abilities collided, hilarity followed.

The group was a mixed lot of characters led by husband and wife Henry and Polly Benish (Steve Shipton and Janet Holmes). Holmes, in particular, brought an air of the pantomime dame to her role with her over-the-top attire and Hyacinth Bucket-style voice. She was also frequently teased by the quick-witted Saul Watson (Mike Jones). 

ImageAlso good was Liz Cox as the fictional play's long-suffering director Geraldine Dunbar. As if her cast were not trouble enough, Geraldine also suffered from proceedings being frequently hampered by an uncooperative backstage team who kept forgetting props, mixing up the sound effects and  hammering on the walls during rehearsal. When it comes to the grand opening night, you are almost hoping everything will go well for the cast but, of course, it doesn't. Lines are forgotten and added, props are lost, mens flies are left undone and two cast members are staggering around drunk. 

ImageMy absolute favourite (who sadly we did not see enough of) however, were Mrs. Dillinger and Herbert, the theatre cleaners played by Patricia Quilter and Roy Emmett. He accompanied her every move with his vacuum cleaner at the ready while she was the typical miserable maid, crashing her duster into everything and frequently interrupting rehearsals to moan about rubber chickens in her washing up.

Overall it was very entertaining and funny. However, with it being based on the same rehearsal throughout, the jokes began to get a tad tedious at the third or fourth time of hearing them. Indeed, I have to confess that I was laughing just as much at the efforts of a woman on the row in front of me who was trying to open a bag of sweets quietly and failing. Bless Her.

Annabelle Harvey, Loughborough Echo         17/10/03