Bean's Fate's Thread and Tristam's Last Panto in Little Grimley

Date 27th April 2018
Society Egerton Players
Venue Egerton Village Hall
Type of Production Farce
Director Mary Pheby and Neil Crossley-Roberts

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

I cannot honestly remember having laughed as much as we did tonight. The audience although not large were infectious – and how all on stage kept going was terrific. Fabulous timing and wonderful facial expressions maintained by both casts.

Fate’s Thread .... Closed red curtains, with blue swathes across the top opened into a misty graveyard to commence the web around newly deceased Susan Davies. This play was a combination of murder mystery, a ghost story with a comedic base.  A great one-act play with good one liners, for new to directing Mary Pheby to get her teth into, and I’m sure she’ll be back for more as she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and her team worked hard to support her.

Susan a business executive – well healed, is married to Jack – her ‘bit of rough’. He’s fed up with being a kept man and has a ‘bit on the side’ namely Margaret Loftus. He really wants to make the break but doesn’t want to change his lifestyle. Susan has a fatal accident in her Jensen after it is returned from servicing. Suspicious!  Dead, She finds herself not too happy sharing a cold graveyard with long time ghosts, loud mouthed Alice, burnt in 1647 as a witch and bonneted Harriett Cole, a rather prim lady who was stabbed to death in 1884.  Alice and Harriett do not believe it was just a car accident that Susan suffered but that she was murdered and if she can’t be reconciled, she will spend the rest of eternity in the ‘Sea of Lost Souls’. They must break ‘the barrier’ which Alice confesses she can find a way round, by ‘visiting’ the living and listening in on their conversations. Jack on the appearance of Susan is frightened into a murder confession - knowing that the brakes were not repaired, having received a phone call from the Garage - the car was unsafe and he let her knowingly drive leading to Susan’s demise!!

Tech corner with lighting and split-programme designer John Sewell, together with soundman Neil Crossley-Roberts and Tech Asst. Sarah Woods created good backdrop projections of a spooky, misty graveyard and the alternating Davies’ sitting room with wall interior, fireplace, light fittings, and a splendid wedding portrait. I was amused by the perfectly timed mimed pressing of the doorbell from Elaine Narbrough as DC Jenny Bayes complete with her notebook, and her final arrest of Jack the lad. The stage was set with a settee and drinks table with the telephone. The graveyard contained a new grave and a bench, and to finish the sets Sue Johnson & Anne Rayner gathered the props. Finale TV effects excellent. Costumes of the period were perfect – suitably daubed with blood and gore with Susan in modern top in tatters and wonderful arm injury, including broken glass provided by Sylvia Tillman and Margi Stevens with Shirley Staddon on the special effects.  The three ghosts worked well together – Wendy Thomas as Susan with Emma Clarke a spritely impish Alice and the taller Vanessa Perrin played the prim Miss Harriett. Trina Mealham with her long tresses played the strung-along seductive mistress rather well, whilst Dave Clarke was naughty boy Jack with plenty of action and a smattering of slightly blue language.

‘Last Panto’ ..... Reuniting the four-member committee of the Little Grimley ADS -  an amdram dream! Sara Martin did a wonderful job of opening as the wannabe songstress, eight word a minute shorthand minute taker Joyce, Mac Mercer as Gordon, panto script writer, Dame and Director. Diva Margaret beautifully characterised in both action and speech by Fiona Fraser-Pritchard and lastly, Chris Stevens, banana eating Bernard, the flat flattening Stage Manager. Instead of a musical, a panto is the answer and whatever could possibly go wrong? The four created an hysterically funny play with fantastic slapstick of banana slipping, principal boy in plaster, wrong costumes, a Dame with missing breasts and an eyehole less horse’s head, blowing bulbs, to name but a few incidents.  Even trying to arrange a suitable date to commence rehearsals caused utter chaos.  What a great start to Neil’s first solo stint of directing. Staging was simple – an open set using trestle tables and chairs as we all do for Committee Meetings – perfect - plus using the hall itself.  What a great evening of first-class entertainment from one and all.