Half Decent Proposals

Date 27th April 2022
Society The th-eat-re Congleton
Venue Alexandra Court Hotel, Congleton
Type of Production Play
Director Rachel Wood
Written By Chris Wood & Rachel Wood

Report

Author: Joe Clarke

I was delighted to return to the beautiful Alexandra Court Hotel in Congleton this week to see The ThEATre Congleton’s latest production of Half Decent Proposals. Set in the grounds of the Alexandra Court Hotel, this theatre and dining experience is a highlight to my calendar. The food is fantastic, as is the value for money, all whilst being thoroughly entertained with witty and comedic dramas. Half Decent Proposals is an amalgamation of two plays by Rachel Wood and her father Chris Wood. Set in two different locations, the play in act one takes place solely in a lift. The play in act two is situated in a dance hall practice room. There are various things that tie these two plays together, namely, both have two proposals of marriage within them and the cast multi-role in both. The way in which both locations were able to be used, whilst not really changing the set, was clever and a great use of the space. Rachel Wood (Director) has good vision for this and some lovely ideas throughout such as the barn style doors for the kitchen area of the rehearsal room. The play in act one had great pace and storytelling. I found, at times, there were too many actors within the one small space (lift) which meant that some actors were hidden behind others slightly which impacted on storytelling and facial expressions etc. I also found the space a little limiting and some things didn’t quite work, such as people ‘whispering’ really loudly. For the most part, the comedy and humour was there, and the storytelling was brilliant. There are tons of funny one liners and witty remarks about the history of lifts etc. Most characters seemed really well thought out and developed and fun was had by all.

In act two, the style changed slightly but the characterisations and storytelling was equally as funny. Again, the script was fab to listen to and I could’ve easily have sat for a longer time as I felt it had more longevity. Nevertheless, the actors worked very well to portray characters and incorporate both physicality and vocality into their work which was appreciated. I liked the use of multiple locations throughout and the entire set was used well in both plays, which helped with pace etc. Whilst the lights were basic, they were perfect for this setting. The sound cues were very well cued and enhanced the comedy elements. Well done to first time Director Rachel Wood for your vision.

Laura Beech played the role of Natalia. Her Russian accent was very strong and very believable, so much so, that when she then spoke with a Northern accent it added to the comedy all the more. Laura looked stunning in her outfit, and I really believed that she could ballroom dance as her physicality was so good.

Adrian Grace played the roles of Nigel and Wayne Ballcock. Adrian is a brilliant character actor who really uses all aspects to play various roles and he certainly didn’t disappoint in this production. His character of Nigel was so sweet which reminded me of the character of Roy from Coronation Street, complete with tote bag on his wrist! Adrian was equally as strong and believable as the camp dance director Wayne – well done Adrian on yet another fine performance!

Robin Jackson was able to showcase two completely different characters in that of Ken and Bob. One was suitably sweet and naive and the other, brilliantly raw and grounded. A fine accomplished performance!

Judith Butcher was very entertaining as the mad Cheryl! Judith took her time, commanded the stage and was brilliant in role throughout! A great performance from her! Lovely storytelling too!

Daniel Wood multi-roled as Pete and Roy. Whilst I was a massive fan of the overacting from both characters, particularly Pete, I cannot fault Daniels energy and commitment to his characters. He really helped with the overall pace. His projection was excellent also!

Sarah Francis and Dave Francis were brilliant was Belinda and Ronald. I loved both these characters and really felt that they were the standouts from that play in Act 2. – I would’ve loved to have seen more of these two! Both were wonderfully sweet and had the audience onside from the start.

Janine Royale was able to showcase some lovely acting too with her two roles of Daphne and Maureen. Both characters were different, and I really appreciated the subtle nuances between both. Janine is a strong actor with great storytelling and natural instinct!

Other roles were played by Simon Hoffman, Liz Cardall, John Miller (lovely singing and storytelling) and Emily Bourne. All contributed to the production positively and helped with the overall visuals and style.

This was another pleasing night at the ‘theatre’. I love things that are a bit daring and different and this theatre/dining experience is certainly that. As the audience are so close to the action, we can see every facial expression and hear every word. The space is always used very well here and audiences thoroughly entertained. Well done to The ThEATre Congleton for another sell out run of a local play by local talented actors! I cannot wait to return for subsequent productions.