Ayckbourn’s classic comedy A Chorus of Disapproval was written in 1984 and concerns with the off-stage goings-on of a local company staging a production of John Gay’s’ Beggars Opera’.
Gay’s story of the dashing highwayman MacHeath and his two mistresses Polly Peacham and Jenny Diver, is mirrored in the antics and affairs of the amateur thespians playing these roles, and indeed in the intrigues and dodgy business dealings in the lives of the local community.
Ayckbourn’s people are often written as little more than stock types - the bottle blonde sex siren, the feisty boot-clad stage manager and so on - and it is to the credit of this EODS cast that they flesh out these roles and conjure an array of believable, funny and sometimes moving characters.
Richard Lock as Dafyd, the wonderfully harassed and absurdly Welsh director, is responsible for many of the evening’s funniest moments and also for its most moving scene, when he confesses his loneliness and despair in his loveless marriage.
The unlikely lothario, Guy, is played with an endearing diffidence (and a touch of Norman Wisdom!) by David Nicholles, and Jane Brooman’s smouldering Fay and Hannah Poynter’s downtrodden Hannah, are a fine contrast as rivals for Guy’s attention.
However the success of this evening lies in the detail - this is a production that relies on the fine ensemble playing from the whole cast - the lady who knits through most of the proceedings, the teenage lovers canoodling on the sofa - lots of interest in the background and some glorious singing.
I didn’t experience moments of helpless comic bliss that great Ayckbourn productions can sometimes deliver, but I did laugh loudly and often. At only ten pounds a ticket, this show is the perfect reason to venture out and banish the February blues!
Chorus of Disapproval continues at The Royal Hippodrome Theatre until Saturday.
by Moira Brooker