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A very good choice of play, just what we needed for this time of year. My heart went out to you when just the week before the weather was very cold and it must have been a real pain trying to get to rehearsals. So glad that things improved in that direction and you had a good audience turn out.
A brave choice for amateurs – farce is the hardest area of theatre to pull off successfully – and you did it! A couple of wobbly bits here and there, but I did see it on the first night, so I am sure by Saturday it was perfect.
I think audiences are very comfortable with this form of entertainment. They don’t have to think to deeply about the characters or plot, which in this play is quite intricate but of actual little importance. It is laid out in formulaic fashion. Lots of doors, cupboards, vicars, mistaken identity and underwear, and of course much rushing about! Best described as a mixture of Noises off and Dad’s Army.
Let me begin by saying how very much I enjoyed the evening - it was a very funny and 'hands on' production. And by hands on there was certainly a lot of body contact and plenty of man and woman handling that went on, the cast must have got to know one another very well indeed!
I was delighted to see that Sue Cole was in charge - a sure hand on the tiller and you had a complete understanding of what 'farce' is all about. It was very well staged with the many complex moves to work out, with timing being of the essence! This must have been drilled into the cast as it was spot on. With your 9 stock characters you wrung out every bit of humour from each of them. And there were plenty of opportunities for 'business' . There were some more than over the top moments here and there, but with the nature of the play it's to be expected, in fact, it's to be demanded. The obvious enjoyment of the night was proved by all the laughter from the audience which was in bucketfuls. I had tears in my eyes at one point when Ida was doing marvellous things with her head trying to get Penelope's attention - priceless! And the chase scene.....need I say more!!!
Also with your experience you know how important diction and projection is and the actors came up trumps - I heard every word.
In fact I heard almost too much at the beginning of play when Penelope was squawking off stage to such great effect that I had difficulty hearing what the actors were saying, so it was hardly surprising when Miss Skillon wanted her to shut up. I felt that once Penelope had established her deliberate loudness it just needed to be turned down a bit.
Another small point was that a couple times characters re-acted a bit too soon to the line that hadn't yet been said. We've all been guilty of that from time to time as we know the play, but we have to pretend that we don't, and it's particularly important in a comedy. And finally - telephone conversations. The character has to relay to the audience what is being said on other end of the line,. To make it believable you have to leave time for the imaginary person to actually have conveyed the message. Everyone was guilty who used the phone.
However apart from those minor points - it was a triumph. So many congratulations on a very successful production.
I liked the few moments after the lights came up for the audience to take in the stage, nice touch. It was well dressed with plenty of room for action. I particularly liked the working grandfather clock. THE most important thing on the set are the doors – they have to be perfect and the actors HAVE to know which way they open and close – otherwise you’re b*ggered, I think the appropriate phrase is!
It definitely felt like a forties living room - down to the taped French windows to indicate that a war was on. Key in the French windows? A little nit picky - but I did notice it, and the front of the stairs could have done with a coat of paint or carpet - they looked a little scruffy - but minor points indeed.
Sound and Lighting
Lighting was nice and straightforward, well lit with no nasty shadows - we could see everyone. and with the sound again nothing too complex - the 'phone, door and church bells - all on time. The bells were rather loud, but you were right next to the church so that was acceptable. I only mention this as so often in amateur productions sound effects are far too loud to be believable.
Well organised. Everything appeared to be in the right places when the actors needed them. The tea trolley, poker, gun, drinks bottles all arrived on time and the set looked good and was well dressed.
Well done Christine and as I would expect from you. Everyone looked the part. Several Vicars outfits and you were practically done! More complicated than that I know. The girls looked good in their period outfits. I loved Miss Skillon’s satin bloomers, and you wisely hired the soldiers costume. And what wonderfully bright white undies!
Backstage Crew and Prompt
Mercifully, no big scene changes - everything seemed to go smoothly and only one or two hiccups when Wendy' services were required. So a good job done by all the behind the scenes bods.
Ida Sophie Robertson
Miss Skillon Lisa Mathews
Rev Lionel Toop Martin
Penelope Toop Liz Adams
L/Corp Clive Winton Howard
The Intruder Tom Donoghue
The Bishop of Lax Andrew
Rev Arthur Humphrey
Sergeant Towers Foster
I hope you had as much fun performing as I did watching. I know how much hard work and effort goes into producing a play, as I have appeared in and directed several in my time and let alone a farce which requires even more concentration than the average play to make it look effortless. I would have loved to have see it again.
So once again thank you for putting on a successful and very funny play and all I can do now is wish you well for your next production.