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Cheshire Cats

Date

24th November 2017

Society

Stock Drama Group

Venue

Stock Community Hall

Type of Production

Play

Director

Peter Baker

Report

Author: Christine Davidson

It was my first time as Noda reviewer at Stock Drama Group and what a friendly society. Thank you Angela Beckett-Franks for coming to greet me and talk to me about the group.  There were full houses for this show, as this was chosen as a tribute to one of their members Claire Wilson who they sadly lost to cancer in the summer.  They have decided that all proceeds will be donated to Farleigh Hospice as was her wish shortly before she passed away.

The play, full of honesty and humour, tells of five women and one man who each have their own reason for being part of the charity, half marathon moonlight walk and is based on a true story.  It was written to raise the awareness of the large number of people in this country who organise, take part in and assist with charity walks

The set was completely bare, bar light curtains at the back and black curtains either side so that the many scenes that take place can be imagined as the girls go on their walk. Chairs were used to depict such items as a park bench or seats on a train and signs were used for Chester railway station and the start and finish of the race.  Lighting was simple with a couple of gobos which sometimes were a bit obscure. There was a good choice of sounds and music. A few minor hitches occurred right at the beginning of the production but this was soon sorted out.

The costumes from the training outfits to the purple tutus that lit up for the actual walk were perfectly suited to the action. I loved the black bras with the green cat’s eyes and cat hairbands. No name was mentioned in the programme as to who came up with this idea but nonetheless it was very well done.

First on the scene are Vicky and Maggie who are in training at the Park. Vicky (Victoria Rossiter) played the cougar of the group, looking for a younger man. Sparky and beautifully projecting her dialogue she gave us a totally believable character and her monologue was very well presented. Great striptease dances Victoria!

Maggie (Corinne Woodgate) was super as the very enthusiastic unfit young mum whose giggles hid a secret of an illness to come. Her last monologue presentation was truly superb. A very emotional ending that brought tears to many an eye in the audience.  Corinne is a very talented actress who really understood her character.

Next to arrive was Hilary (Shirlee Grundy) the dominant taskmaster of the group who was trying to get them into shape for the long walk ahead. Determined to complete the walk in record time she gets frustrated at their lack of enthusiasm. Here was a strong actress who definitely can project. You felt her frustration at trying to be the mainstay of the group and not really getting any feedback from them.

Siobhan (Barbara Woolnough) and Yvonne (Joy Tugwell) are last to meet up with the others. Both had good Cheshire accents but Barbara as Siobhan was slightly quiet so you really had to listen to her. She portrayed her role well though and showed us a strong determination to return for her friends.  I loved both their monologues especially on how much Yvonne hated men. I thought Joy’s portrayal of Yvonne really excellent and felt for her feet when she had blisters after wearing her new trainers..

Last but not least was Andrew (Colin Smith) Vicky’s young toy boy. Colin obviously loves acting as his portrayal of Andrew was very funny especially when he came on with blond curly wig and full tutu regalia. He played to the audience and provided some of the best comedy highlights.

Cameo performances were many in this production and the some that stood out were the energetic Aerobics Instructor (Harry Clark), the singing drunk (Ian Stratford) and the elderly couple of Marshalls, Madge and her husband Ron (Meg Stratford and Jim Henshaw).

This is a wordy play, with long speeches and the action relying almost entirely on the dialogue. The first half felt a tad long and maybe some cuts in the script could have made the pace slightly faster and some of the smaller scenes cut. Director, lighting & sound guru, Peter Baker had worked incredibly hard to bring this production to the stage and I’m sure he will be very proud of all his team and his tribute to Clare.

I think I can resonate with everyone that this production will raise a huge amount of money for such a worthy cause. Congratulations to all.