Hi De Hi

Date 24th April 2024
Society Port Sunlight Players
Venue Gladstone Theatre
Type of Production Farce
Director Jill Eason
Stage Manager Emma Gordon
Lighting&Sound Lewis Bradley. Barry Dunne
Written By Paul Carpenter & Ian Gower

Report

Author: Joanne Rymer

Hi De Hi

Port Sunlight Players

25/04/24

 

On arrival at the Gladstone Theatre we were immediately transported to Maplin’s Holiday Camp in the 1950’s. A number of the cast mingle with the audience gathered in the bar/foyer dressed in their recognisable bright yellow Maplin blazers. A lovely touch.

This production is adapted by Paul Carpenter and Ian Gower from the original TV series by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Based on a couple of ‘plot lines’ a camp vote for the coveted ‘Yellowcoat of the Season’ the winner getting to work at the new camp Joe Maplin is opening in the Bahamas, the second plot Ted Bovis is behind on payments to his ex-wife Hilary Bovis (Kathy Kennedy). Ted’s unpaid alimony is introduced right at the start of the show with his wife plus a bailiff (Sarah Stokes)  with an order from the court to pay. Not having the cash, Spike offers to help Ted resulting in a race against time to come up with the money for when Hilary returns. Unfortunately the alimony storyline got rather lost, this had more to do with the script than the talented actors.

Reviving TV sitcoms attracts good audiences for local theatre, but comparisons with the original are inevitable. However, Port Sunlight Players had nothing to fear with Hi-De-Hi, as their audience was laughing out loud within seconds of curtain-up. When seated in the auditorium, the cast assemble on stage and into the audience. we hear a bong-bing-bong on the xylophone followed by Gladys Pugh’s “Hello Campers” announcement, and we know we’re going to see the familiar characters we know and love.

This production is performed by an enthusiastic and talented cast delivering an authentic tribute to the show. The casting was spot on, the Director Jill Eason chose well, plus a solid production team, Lewis Bradley, lighting, Barry Dunne,sound supported this performance. A number of the cast members had an uncanny resemblance to the original cast, especially Gladys Pugh (Adelle Riley-Bell) who nailed every nuance and mannerisms of the character who was originally played by Ruth Madoc including the distinctive Welch accent. Jeffrey Fairbrother (Dave Coleman) fitted the role perfectly, capturing the mannerisms and awkwardness of the character perfectly. As the new entertainments manager who looked genuinely out of place at Maplins, he reacts to the misfortunes that befall him with some wonderful facial expressions. His hangover moments were bliss. Another standout performance by Vicky Stewart (Peggy Ollerenshaw) who managed to balance the comic and clumsy nature of Peggy with her passionate side. A very touching performance, creating vast amounts of pity from the audience in the final scene. Assured performances come from Catherine Gorden (Yvonne Stewart-Hargreaves) and Johnathan Harvey (Barry Stewart-Hargreaves) as the snooty dance instructors. Catherine gets to deliver a wickedly hilarious double entendre regarding the wallpaper’s pattern that had the audience in stitches.

Adam Comer and Mark Kasprzak play Maplin favourite comics Ted Bovis and Spike Dixon, both actors created many comical moments, noticeably Teds outrageous loud suit, Spike dressed as a bin plus bin lid on his head, what an entrance.  Both men had the audience laughing out loud. There were some great moments in this show, a lovely cameo performance from Stuart Raphel (Mr Pritchard) a Maplin regular visitor, who admits his love for Gladys, who only has eyes for Jeffrey!!. Mention to for Stuart Clay (Fred Quilly) the ex-jockey and Mr Partridge (Kevin Fishwick) the Punch and Judy man, who splendidly delivered their grumpy one-liners - the two were really believable.

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There is no vibrant Maplins holiday camp without the ‘Yellowcoats’ wonderful Hi De Hi performances from Natasha Thornton (Betty Whistler), Gemma Stott (Tracey Bentwood), Katie Willis (Sylvia Garnsey). Loved the bright yellow blazers, you all looked amazing. They all contributed to a large dose of nostalgia and good old fashioned, if a tad non-PC, humour, giving us a great evening’s entertainment. So, Hi-Di-Hi delivered a show full of fun and laughter.

 

Thank you for inviting me, it was a real blast.

 

Joanne Rymer

NODA

District 4