26th April 2019
Washington Arts Centre
Type of Production
Author: Foster Johnson
Grandad is an uproarious and riotous comedy play from the pen of Tom Casling. It tells the tale of trials and tribulations of the Wright family (Mother, Father and their son and daughter) in coming to terms with taking Grandad into the family home following the loss of his wife and his inability to manage things on his own. The action of the play is set two years on from his joining the family home where he is, to say the least, proving to be a handful for all, but primarily for June the mother. This is in part as he seeks to establish what he sees to be his own freedom.
To relate the theme of the play to the audience one needs to have a cast that are not only talented performers in their own right but one that can deliver what many feel is the hardest skill of them all namely comedy. In addition you need a Director with an intuitive feel for the subject matter and the vision to do it. Well this certainly was the case with Helen Abraham and Fatfield Musical Stage Society’s rendition of the play.
The audience absolutely loved it and the theatre was full of laughter from the opening to the final curtain. It rattled along with great pace and timing and I don’t think there was any member of the audience who could not relate to, encounter, or have seen the characters in real life. The set itself was minimalistic but that did not detract in any way as it was spot on and so true to life.
The play has a cast of ten and each and everyone of them delivered the goods with fine interpretations of their respective roles. Barry Thomas as Grandad George Wright was superb as the convincing cantankerous but lovable old rogue. It was also nice to see Janet Cooper return to a leading role and she conveyed the angst and frustration of mother June’s life in trying to hold things together in dealing with her recalcitrant Father–in–Law and somewhat laid back husband excellently. As the father of the family Dave, Peter Round created a fine performance of a man desperately trying to keep peace and harmony in the household by supporting his wife whilst at the same time making allowances for his father’s ways.
As siblings Paul and Emma, Matthew Lowery and Steph Crewe added to their burgeoning repertoire of fine performances with their interpretation of the brother and sister who are torn between their love and support for Grandad and their mother, whilst Claire Taylor was very believable in the role of the Care Assistant Ruth Pringle who is given the run around by Grandad. It was so true to life. Likewise Joanne Hudson as Mrs. Raugenhaus the Social Worker brought a sense of reality to the part and was convincing in treading the fine line in attempting to balance the needs of the family.
Norma Ord (Mavis Anderson) and Fred Piggford (Jackie Smith) were also good as foils for Grandad , Norma a natural comedienne as his secret love interest and Fred with his vast performing experience as the nervous and unsure friend at the hands of the strong willed old man.
Finally Anthony Heslop had dual roles as Father O’Neill and a Police Officer and his talent and maturity as an actor continues to grow. He took these two roles and made them his own particularly his scene with Grandad when as the young priest he tries to explain the ways of life to the old man and how he himself deals with the temptations of the flesh