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Bridge to Farce

Cuckfield Dramatic Society

Date

2 June 2017

Venue

Queen's Hall Cuckfield

Type of Production

Farce

Producer / Director

Sophie Bradshaw/Emma Gosling

Review

Author: Anne Lawson

This was a brand-new comedy written by CDS member Paul Ruse together with friend Richard Willis.  They created a one act play which was to be a ‘whodunit’ and little did they realise it would turn into a fast moving ‘swinging’ three act Comedy Farce to be performed for the first outing in Cuckfield. An entertainment of cross-purposes resulting in compromising, hysterical situations.  With a cast of 16 playing 21 different roles this was quite a challenge, ably taken on by Director Sophie and Producer Emma.

With a combination of political ambition from rather pompous ‘blue’ Margaret, played superbly by Hazelle Woodhurst, supported by Philip Robinson's somewhat downtrodden husband ‘Randy’ Norman, are awaiting the arrival of new bridge partners and not the unexpected arrival of gum chewing Bas, ably played by writer Paul Ruse and Angie beautifully commonly played by Estella Balicki, newcomers to the world of ‘swingers’ at the wrong address having mixed up their Avenues with their Drives. Obvious immediate confusion commenced. Meanwhile, keen bridge players Edward and Charlotte Webster (Lawrence Leng and Emma Gosling pairing well) enjoy an evening with guitar playing, joint smoking George convincingly played by David Corbett, teaming with his sexy wife Zoe, plus her pole, comically played by Kirsty Bishopp.

As in all good farces extraordinary unexpected characters appear and disappear – including a goat – well we only saw its rope, leading to constant misunderstanding causing the audience little time for belly laugh recovery! How the actors kept straight faces I will never know, with double entendres too many to quote, but golf balls, bridge rubbers, asthma puffers, baking powder, pampas grass etc. took on a whole new meaning!

Starting with a blank page building a set must have seemed daunting for Sophie, but together with her set builders they came up with some very good ideas, keeping the SM and crew on their toes throughout, particularly covering twelve scenes. A good opening, Nicol-Stevens’ living room with plain back flats, doors right and left, drinks cabinet fully equipped at the back, furnished with a settee and cushions (good hiding place for the bicycle chain), small table with plant, a couple of chairs, card table with election boards displayed, a cleverly hidden trolley for canapes and the golf trolley, which I believe held a ‘Big Bertha’. I loved the picture of Margaret T hanging on the wall. The residential streets were front of stage with entrances from front auditorium and with coloured street lighting, worked well. The Collins’ lounge was slightly more complicated, with turning and covering the settee, the biggest ‘ball’ lightshade, a nude on easel which very nearly took a tumble, an illicit plant, the skin rug etc. and then the simplicity of the police station, splitting with a ‘wall’ into the interview room with recorder – desks and chairs quite effective - and the Magistrate's Court, the cell door, with excellent paintwork for the bench and the defendants both with an impressive justice coat of arms ‘Dieu et mon droit’ above the judge.  Good stage dressing together with numerous brilliant personal props were supplied by the cast as were the perfect costumes for each character again provided by the cast, Gladrags of Brighton and help from Emmaus. I loved the slinky black shiny dress kinky boots, and Felicity’s red beret and socks and her knitting, and Margaret’s incognito red number with the slit and that wonderful hair to match! Good hair styling and colouring, interesting wigs but an overall ‘good look’, although I don’t think I’ve never seen a police officer in uniform with his hair tied back!

This was a well-rehearsed, slick production by an extremely talented group, with well cued sound. I did find the sudden black outs for scene changes rather long, but having said that it was a huge team effort beautifully executed and if, as suggested, this farce could go far I'll be proud to say I was there in it’s infancy! With the forthcoming election in mind I loved Sir Gerald’s – ‘come early, come often’ Vote Farquar, your standing member! Good to know the recent investment in new lighting equipment is proving successful.