For their November production at East Dean’s handsome Village Hall the Players offered three one-act comedies.
This was a challenging undertaking, not least because four backstage stalwarts responsible for the sets, lighting, sound and properties had all retired at the same time. Fortunately the sense of co-operation that permeates amateur drama meant that Seaford Little Theatre’s Ray Cox and Phil Armstrong were called in to set up the lighting. Certainly on Friday November 16 all three sets were well up to scratch, and the performers were in good form.
David Tristram’s Last Tango In Little Grimley became, for three nights, Last Tango In East Dean.
The respectability one associates with this part of Sussex gave an extra edge to this tale of a drama group setting out to improve attendances by doing a play about “S...X”. The laughs came fast and easily, with polished playing from Robin Clarke, Christine Fuller, Marilynne Sharpin and particularly Jon Terry. The deliberately suggestive language was conveyed very naturally, and became the source of “naughty” humour, relished by the audience as much as the Players.
Richard Ward’s Victorian melodrama The Golden Galah was, surprisingly, set in Australia. The set forewarned us, with its wall decoration of boomerangs, just one nice touch among many. A portrait of Queen Victoria set the time, wherein Polly McGane gave a delightful performance as an unhappy daughter Chastity who becomes “with child” by handsome but impoverished Clarence (Camber Sands). The complex tale was beautifully unfolded by Julie Crook, Jon Terry, Adrian Sharpin, Roger Trace and Marilynne Sharpin (standing in for the indisposed Cheryl Veitch).
Two plays successfully accomplished, and we were as ever offered delicious coffee and biscuits. courtesy of the Players’ many supporters.
Easy Stages, by N J Warburton, was set during a run-through of Hamlet. We observe a rehearsal, most of which is concerned with shifting furniture so rapidly that everyone gets in the way of everyone else. The stage movement was skilfully performed, right down to the timing of phone calls that kept taking one of the actors off into the wings. Camber Sands as Gerry was revealed as a bad-tempered bully who is obsessed by doing everything “by the book”, but who nonetheless has a gentler side. In addition to the players who had been in one or both of the first two plays we saw Janet Sorrell, Jane Bryant and (possibly) Robin Clarke. The lines were almost too well-learnt, leading to a tendency to rush some of the sentences, which was regrettable because some witty lines went by default. This is something for future directors to keep an eye on, in these days of rushed speech even on Radio Three. Overall, though, an evening which was so enjoyable I could have sat through it all again on the Saturday, which was no doubt Full House anyway. And well-deserved. Review by Robin Gregory.