Duets

Date 18th March 2022
Society Belper Players Amateur Dramatic Society
Venue Strutts Community Centre
Director Roger Whiting, Sara Noble-Nesbitt, Jeremy Crane, Patricia Church

Report

Author: Joyce Handbury

Duets by Peter Quilter is a quartet of four one act plays and is the examination of the chaotic world of love, relationships and why the grass is never greener and is a tribute to the strength and madness of the human heart.

There are several rooms available at the Strutts Community Centre and the one chosen for this play is quite small, with tiered seating, no stage and the front row is only a couple of feet away from the players, so very intimate.

The excellent set comprised of painted back flats containing a door, a window and a side entrance. It was adorned with a large settee, small tables, chairs and a tall glass fronted cupboard. For each play the furniture was moved around, there was a change of curtains, new pictures on the walls and different throws each time over the settee. The props including ornaments, drink bottles, glasses etc. were too, all changed, added to and moved around. These differences were all carried out between the plays and were so expertly and quickly achieved by the stage crew assisted by the actors. Each person involved had a specific job to do and watching them was an entertainment in itself.

The first play was Blind Date, directed by Roger Whiting. Jonathan and Wendy, both middle-aged, are on a blind date and are meeting at Jonathan’s, to establish whether or not they wish to progress to having dinner together. They obviously had embroidered their profiles and the resulting ‘meet’ was hilariously and at times so poignantly delivered by Jo Petch and Michael Fletcher. It was a joy to watch their initial unease and awkwardness develop into mutual friendship which eventually led to them agreeing to a further date. Both Jo and Michael so splendidly and delightfully captured all the varying emotions and antics involved.

The second was Secretarial Skills, directed by Sara Noble-Nesbitt. Barrie, successful and rich, is not really interested in women but Janet, his secretary, wishes he was and sees no reason to stop trying for his affection. Barrie was excellently played by Ben Sherwin, although at times he did seem to switch accents! His overall performance was terrific, he was so animated and his meaningful explanation of being gay was so exquisitely and compassionately explained. Adele Green also excelled as the secretary who Barrie totally depended upon. She did her very best to try to ‘convert’ him and did in fact manage to persuade him in the end, to join her on a cruise. They had a great natural and believable stage friendship which was superbly delivered by both of them.

The third of the quartet was The Holiday, directed by Jeremy Crane. Shelley and Bobby have decided to go on a pre-booked holiday to Spain although they are planning to divorce. Judy Richter was exquisite as Shelley. She continually drank cocktail after cocktail, which I might add were beautifully presented, and her depiction of her slow drunken decline was just brilliant. Martin Weston as Bobby was initially quite calm about the situation but quite soon he decided to leave and we then did see a different side to his character as his well delivered arguments and emotions escalated. However, they do decide to have an ‘early night’!   

The final of the four plays was The Bride-To-Be, directed by Patricia Church. Here we see brother and sister, Toby and Angela, immediately before her wedding is to take place. Angela, superbly played by Louisa Jenkins, has last minute concerns and worries about her future, particularly after her two previous failed marriages. Mik Horvath was just terrific as her brother, Toby. As guests were waiting in the garden, his mounting frustration at Angela’s lack of urgency, so well portrayed by Louisa, was so perfectly executed as was his fine comic timing and sarcastically delivered asides and remarks. When Angela demanded a coffee, it resulted in the coffee being spilt down the front of her voluminous wedding dress, the dress being torn because the stain couldn’t be removed in any other way to eventually Toby having to pin it together. This whole scenario was just so hilariously and so cleverly accomplished. Both Louisa and Mik delivered most believable and top-notch performances. 

Appropriate music was played where applicable and the sound effects were totally in sync with requirements. Audience members were made aware, by email, that in trying to be a little kinder to the environment the company had decided not to print a traditional programme but to make all the relevant information available on their website in the hope that attendees would print it off (copies were available on the night) - a real innovative decision but one perhaps not suitable, for many situations. I thoroughly enjoyed this quartet of plays and congratulations must go to all the actors, to the directors and to the whole support network of helpers, both backstage and front of house.