A Bunch of Amateurs

Date 27th April 2018
Society Harleston Players
Venue Archbishop Sancroft High School
Type of Production Play
Director Steve Askew

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

Having recently waxed lyrical regarding the strength in depth of Harleston’s principal role contenders, here we had, within two months of the outstanding original production, ‘Around the World in 80 Days’…yet another exceptional play from this prodigious group as they present a wonderful comedy perhaps mimicking the characters we are all familiar with, even just maybe, recognising a few personal traits of our own! 

The difference here was the (un)fortunate ‘mistake’ from the ‘accidental’ casting of a renowned, albeit aging a bit, ‘A’ list actor with a reputation for some, shall we say, ‘action’ movies! This pivotal role of Jefferson Steele (Roy Goodwin) was one of outrageous arrogance and self promotion in extremis. From the outset he brought an obnoxious persona to the stage of the small Society of…Stratford, yes BUT NOT the REAL Stratford-upon- Avon. By some unlikely agent mix up he finds himself in the adapted barn used by the local am dram soc and finds the added and expected extras he is used to, somewhat lacking!! His was a really convincing performance with all the petulance and selfish behaviour of the stereotypical Hollywood minor ‘star’, with a perceived fan base to bolster his inflated ego! This is gradually undermined and reversed by events and individuals as they attempt to rehearse the Shakespeare play ‘King Lear’. He showed some wonderful duplicity as he attempted to tackle the demanding language of a Shakespeare play…and later some real talent to eventually show his true potential and rekindle his relationship with his daughter. Jessica (Amelia Geddis) who had travelled from the USA to surprise her dad! Hers was a nicely interpreted role as she copes with his perceived continued womanising antics, eventually finding that he is indeed the dad to be proud of!

We had the aspiring Nigel (Grant Filshill), straight from his leading role in ’…80 Days’, and here seeking the lead he thinks he deserves as he struts and pouts taking every opportunity to portray his ‘skills’ as the rightful casting of King Lear! He was the likeable ‘failure’ with an applaudable enthusiasm for his Society and himself. He was the ideal foil for the real arrogance of Jefferson Steele and we loved him for it!

The under pressure Society Director of King Lear Dorothy (Roz Morgan) showed terrific stoicism and diplomacy to resolve all the initial issues caused by Jefferson’s arrival. She was the very model of that tireless thankless task as each and every attempt was thwarted by some unfortunate occurrence or failing of her fellow actors, so well displayed by Mary (Juliet  Lloyd), the well meaning and besotted supporting actor, who offered her B and B to ‘put up’ the demanding Jefferson, who she secretly and not so secretly admired (fancied!). She was a major player in the success of the under plot comedy of this piece. Loved her OTT show of ‘affection’ as Jefferson announced his departure (or was it!?).

Denis (Barry Givens)  nominated Health and Safety Officer, a willing if lacking member was the provider of most of the jokes, but proved an invaluable ‘friend’ of Jefferson. The Society amazingly had a sponsor in the guise of the local Brewery and Lauren (Sara Curtis) the wife of said sponsor was a useful addendum to stretch the casting and to offer the misconstrued massage to Jefferson…a well staged piece of directing, which had to work to fool Mary and appear somewhat, ‘risque’ to the audience, albeit with perfectly innocent intent! This mix of characters served up a most entertaining take on the pitfalls, and some of the ‘joys’ of our ‘Am dram’ hobby…But, all’s well that ends well, and from the ensuing shenanigans there arose a phoenix from the ashes. Even a love angle between our two unlikely protagonists! Who’d have thought it!