|Date||25th March 2022|
|Venue||Writtle Village Hall|
|Type of Production||Play|
|Director||Jan Irving, Barbara Llewellyn, Michele Moody|
|Written By||Alan Aykbourn|
Author: Christine Davidson
Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn
Writtle Village Hall
Directors Jan Irving, Barbara Llewellyn, Michele Moody
Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn.
Writtle Cards gave us four out of the five different playlets by Alan Ayckbourn, each with themes of loneliness, miscommunication, and human frailty, through the medium of comedy. All the playlets need actors to be convincing in their roles and I felt this was, for the most part achieved.
The first playlet was 'A Talk in the Park' directed by Jan Irving. I understand that one of the actors caught Covid just before the run and that Sharon Goodwin, took on the role of Beryl and learnt her monologue with just three rehearsals, so plaudits must go to this lady and to the cast for how they achieved a good opening to the evening. Sitting on benches in a park they told their problems to another but were unwilling to hear the others in return. Each of the five actors projected with clarity and the feel of the piece was expressed well to the audience. Some lovely expressions on Sharon's face, as the victim of abusive partner, made me feel for her.
Andy Grant as Charles, Juliet Pithers as Doreen, Martin Warner as Ernest and Jerry Thomas as Arthur, understood their characters, so we got to appreciate these sad, lonely people, sitting on the benches in the park. This was a good opening to the evening.
The second playlet of the first half was 'Mother Figure' directed by Barbara Llewellyn. We see a very harassed, tired mum Lucy, (Jodee Goodwin) in pyjamas and dressing gown, who has not got dressed for days. Lucy was being visited by the neighbours, Rosemary (Sharon Goodwin) and Terry (Andy Grant). Being so locked in to her children's world, Lucy ignores all telephone rings, and reduces the domineering husband Terry and his downtrodden wife to the status of children, making Rosemary question her role as a stay at home wife.
There was strong directing from Barbara who seemed to really understand the piece and got the actors to feel each of their characters. Jodee Goodwin was great in this role and really projected well. I felt her despair at her small world of loneliness and how she reduces the visiting neighbours to squabbling children. This play can be overacted but I felt Barbara had the right balance to make this funny, sad play, a good choice to end the first half. Again Sharon Goodwin as Rosemary had the most amazing facial expressions and really made us root for her against her boring, chauvinistic husband.
After the interval the next playet was 'Between Mouthfuls', directed by Michelle Moody. Michelle was clever enough to choose Daniel Curley as the waiter who goes back and forth from the two tables listening to the two squabbling couples. On one table we have Mr & Mrs Pearce (Jerry Thomas and Barbara Llewellyn) and on the other Martin and Polly (Chris Rogerson and Jodee Goodwin). Martin works for Mr Pearce but unbeknown to him, Polly has just spent three weeks in Rome having an affair with his boss.
Mr and Mrs Pearce projected well and I loved Barbara losing her temper, demanding to know who the woman was that he had been sleeping with. Unfortunately sometimes I could not hear Jodee so well. This is interesting as in “Mother Love” I heard every word so I wondered if she had been directed to be quieter??
Daniel Curley as the waiter totally stole the scene; his facial expressions are wonderful and he made the audience laugh out loud. Daniel is a superb comic actor and really, this role was made for him, his interaction between the two tables was a joy. This was a very funny play but I felt it needed a little more pace between the scenes of the waiter going in and out. Sometimes the miming of conversations seemed to go on a little too long.
Last but not least was the farcical 'Gosforth's Fete'. Jerry Thomas as the stressed Gosforth is trying to organise the fete and get the PA system working. He has his schedule and by golly he is going to keep to it. You really feel bad laughing at him but can feel sorry for him at the same time. Councillor Mrs Pearce turns up early, played by the very experienced, excellent actress, Liz Curley, she arrived prim and proper and very smartly dressed but ended up very wet and muddy at the end. Good job here from the costume department as she really was soaking wet and looked like she had been dragged through a bush backwards.
With the PA system being fixed, Gosforth is told by Milly (Jodee Goodwin) that she is pregnant by him and of course everyone hears the news especially her fiancée, Cub Scout leader Stewart (Chris Rogerson). Getting drunk on a bottle of sherry he falls to the ground and mayhem ensues when the tea urn fails to turn off. The Vicar (Katharine Thomas) tries to help but is more of a hindrance, while a huge thunderstorm ends the fete with Mrs Pearce getting electrocuted. This was a good playet to finish the evening and the audience loved it. This time I again heard every word and the pace was excellent.
For each of the playlets, lighting was simple but adequate and sound was fine. The costumes and props were well thought out. Basic scenery was used for each playlet but by just using a few props, each play created the correct impression of where they were and what was happening.
This friendly society always has a good following from the village and it was good to see so many people supporting them. Well done to everyone.