Since October has been Breast Cancer Awareness month, Gail Young’s comedy Cheshire Cats was an apt choice by Polegate Drama Group for their Autumn production, with a donation from ticket sales going to the charity.
At the centre of the play are five women, all taking part in the London Moonwalk, and as the story unfolds we learn about the personal motives which inspire them. In monologues, all delivered with both comedy and pathos, each establishes her personality and her aspirations..
The key to the action is not simply their characters, but the interaction between them. The bombastic leader of the group is Hilary, well played by Charisse Goddard. She is forceful and dominant, but eventually realises the group goal is more important than the individual one.
Sue Talmage and Steve Edwards are convincing as divorcee Vicky and Andrew, her toyboy. Andrew is persuaded to join the walk as a late replacement, much to the chagrin of Yvonne – an engaging portrayal by Jane Parratt.
Adding to the chemistry, Mandy Brown is an effective Siobhan, a pleasant, friendly individual, determined to maintain harmony amongst the group.
And the fifth dimension is Maggie, a giggly, nervous and naïve young mum with an inexhaustable supply of plasters, who ultimately delivers the final, poignant soliloquy - to focus us all on the purpose of the play. Helen Griffin is excellent in this role, achieving the perfect level of humour and sensitivity.
There are some lovely little cameo parts, the most notable being Madge and Ethel, two comical race stewards played by Alison Attwood and Ann Taylor. An unseen Jim Dobell is the station announcer with whom we can all identify, where the important part of each announcement becomes an unidentifiable muffled noise. This is a play that requires pace as well as sensitivity, and Director Cris Haniver effectively maintains both elements, and the balance between them. A simple but effective set, expertly lit by Ryan Tate and with sound by Martin Sales, ensures the mood is captured nicely.
No rest for this talented group: they now go straight into rehearsal for the latest of Polegate’s legendary pantomimes, a January production of Beauty and the Beast. By Trevor Fuggle.
Polegate Drama Group celebrated its 50th anniversary this year; this show was the company’s 98th drama production.