ARE YOU BEING SERVED (Written by Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft)

Date 5th April 2017
Society Ballywillan Drama Group
Venue Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
Director Brian Logan
Choreographer Sharon Logan


Author: Sheelagh Hobart

People of a certain age have fond memories of the British sitcom “Are You Being Served” which ran on TV from 1972 till 1985 for over 69 episodes. I think anyone without those memories would have found this production very dated, but the cast did an excellent job in making each character as close as possible to the original and that made it work. As well as each actor imitating the voice of their original counterpart, the hair wigs and make up team did an amazing job in making them look uncannily similar too! Kent Bolton as Captain Peacock fell very much into this category with the pomposity of the original. Alan McClarty had the plum role as audience favourite Mr Humphries. Camp as a row of tents, he minced around in a variety of outlandish outfits and constantly employed ‘double entendre’ in his dialogue.  Mrs Slocome, who was played by Maxine McAleenan had more difficulty as Mrs S was short and ‘full figured’ with coloured bouffant wig. Maxine was tall and slim but she had the wigs and the accent, together with many of Mrs Slocome’s favourite phrases such as “I am unanimous in that”! Likewise the young Kellyann McKillen, who played the infamous Miss Brahms, did not have all the physical attributes of the original, but captured the nuances of voice and movement. Hugh McLaughlin made a convincing Mr Lucas, looking and sounding just like the cheeky shop assistant that I remember. Jim Everett’s voice was exactly right as Mr Grainger although he was slighter in stature.

Mr Rumbold (Paul Sleet) was a ‘cloned’ role – he looked and sounded particularly like the original Mr R with his actions too. Tom Waddell took two contrasting roles as Mr Mash and Bernardo. His laid-back character was typical as the maintenance man Mash and then he was able to release his inner Latino as Bernardo!

Vicky Hogg was the Nurse – carry on style – in the first act, and Conchita, voluptuous waitress at Bernardo’s hotel in the second.  Sandra McElhinney also played two roles – a customer in Grace Brothers and Taeresa on the Costa Plonka, as did Shea Eastwood (customer and Cesar). Both maintained ‘posh’ accents when they visited the store and then had scope for Spanish pigeon English as they rushed about as revolutionaries abroad!

Brian Logan directed this play with pure fun in mind. The cast, although deadly serious in pursuit of their roles, were obviously enjoying themselves, as were the audience. Sharon’s only chance to choreograph (the German dance at the end of Act1) was very funny and gave Carlton Mullineux a chance as Young Mr.Grace, to attempt to ‘grope’ the dancers!! The sets – first act in the ladies and gents department of Grace Brothers, and second act at the Hotel Bernardo in Costa Plonka – were well made. Shop counters were authentic and the lift doors worked well. The ‘pent house’ tents served their purpose well in Act 2 and the wooden ‘convenience’ gave plenty of cause for laughter! Costumes from Utopia were suitably 70s and technical aspects of the show were fine.