Popcorn Falls

Date 16th March 2024
Society Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society
Venue Chorley Theatre Studio
Type of Production Play
Director Sean Duxbury
Written By James Hindman


Author: Patricia Connor

Since CADOS opened their Studio Theatre, I have had the pleasure of seeing some very interesting excellent and exciting productions in this venue and their latest offering, the UK premier of the play “Popcorn Falls” written by James Hindman was no exception. The play was performed in the round, without any sets or scenery, the actors used a few chairs and a piece of board to represent the different scenes and venues which all worked very well. Directed by Sean Duxbury this was a very entertaining outstanding production, enjoyed by a very enthusiastic audience. The story is set in a small American town called Popcorn Falls whose only claim to fame was that their only beauty spot, a waterfall was once visited by George Washington. However, it has now dried up after the building of a nearby dam meaning tourist have stopped visiting the town effecting the town's income meaning the town is now bankrupt. The mayor of the neighbouring town wants to turn Popcorn Falls into a sewage treatment plant and plans to extend the borders of his own town and his power. However, Popcorn Falls is expecting a substantial grant from the Cattaraugus County Budget Planning Committee, but the Mayor Ted Trundle and towns folk are shocked to find out that the grant is from the arts council and can only be used for the  theatre, however there is a big problem as the town doesn’t have any actors or a play to perform and most importantly they do not have a theatre. Rather than refuse the cheque and to give him some time, Ted bets they can produce and perform a play in seven days, so along with the help of local handyman Joe and the enterprising townsfolk he sets out to try and rise to the challenge. If he can put on a play in just one week, he can cash that cheque and buy the town some time. Ted decides to write a play himself, but it is not as easy as he thought as one scrapped draft involves a kitten, a pirate, and a happy ending. So, for 1 hour 45 minutes the audience is taken on the journey with the inhabitants of Popcorn Falls to build a theatre and put on a play to save the town.

The population of the town is brought to life by two outstandingly talented performers, playing 21 characters between them. They were Jack Vardy playing the central character of Mayor Ted Trundle who is recently divorced is a recovering alcoholic and is trying to put his life back together, Jack also played a few of the other characters. Playing Joe, the handyman and many of the other towns people was Sarah Burrill. I was very impressed how Sarah was able to change character in an instant and was able to keep track of who she was playing. All the characters had very different distinctive personalities and they were played with a great deal of experience - I am glad to say they did not get them mixed up. It was very important that Jack and Sarah trusted each other and worked together for this play to work and be a success. All dialogue was clear and could be followed easily, the pace of the play was just right, and American accents were very good and slightly different accents were used for some of the characters. I must congratulate both actors on their performances as it was obvious that a lot of hard work had gone into rehearsals as there was a great deal of script to learn and identifying all the personality traits, solidifying each character being played and getting them right must have taken some thought and discipline. However, I would think they may have had some fun while doing this.

There was some very important technical input in this production all under the control of the very clever and talented Paul Carr. There was not only lighting and sound to control but monitors were used for information and effect during the performance placed in strategic places for all the audiences to see. Kath Townsend had the responsibility for the costumes, the actors only wore one costume each, which needed to be suitable for the type of production, for each character being played and did not detract from the actor’s performances. The fact that the actors didn’t have any costume changes meant their character performances had to be spot on to make them believable.

Congratulations to all involved in bringing this excellent, comedic, and at times poignant production to the UK and to the Chorley Studio Theatre. My friend and I had a great enjoyable evening.