Last Of The Duty Free
|Date||26th March 2022|
|Society||Fylde Coast Players|
|Venue||The Lowther Pavilion|
|Type of Production||Play|
|Written By||Eric Chappell|
Author: Joe Clarke
I was delighted to return to the lovely Lowther Pavilion this week to see Fylde Coast Players production of the Eric Chappell’s play ‘Last of the Duty Free’. Set in modern day, with a slight 80’s vibe, this production was a hit with audiences from the start. The moment the curtain arose to reveal the fantastic set, I knew we were in for a treat. Director Paul Lomax did well to create a static set with various entrances and exits that incorporates different levels and the feel of a Spanish hotel complex. The production values were high with this production and visually it looked brilliant! The set and lighting, working cohesively together to create location and establish tone and changes of time which worked effortlessly. A huge well done to the set designers and builders for your obvious hard work. For the most part, the direction was great and helped with the overall feel and genre. This production isn’t your typical farce; more of a heightened dramatic comedy, but it still kept some of the characteristics of farce. For me, I would’ve liked to have a little more pace in some scenes to aid the farcical nature. I would also have liked all characters to have changed their costumes to show the passage of time, rather than some. A little bit more attention could’ve be paid to diction and articulation (from a few actors) but for the most part, the storytelling was very good. What did come across was the relationships between the couples. I liked how they all interacted with each other, which made them all more believable and three dimensional. As I said before, the lighting was great. It added layers to scenes with tone and time and I appreciated the subtle lighting changes. The choices of music for scene changes were fab also and really helped us connect with the story more. I especially loved the Eldorado theme tune and Viva Espana songs! What really came across were that the actors were loving being onstage which made us sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
The protagonist, David, was played by Stewart Ellis. Stewart’s version of David was hilarious, and he was a brilliant storyteller and very well cast in this role. I personally would’ve preferred a little more pace and more physicality to aid the comedy, but Stewart’s acting was hilarious throughout. Stewart’s diction, articulation and projection were particularly very good – a great performance.
David’s bit on the side (Linda) was played by Mandy Hall. Despite being a little too laid back for me at times, Mandy’s diction and storytelling were equally as good as Stewart’s. I also loved the rapport that Mandy had with both actors playing her lover and husband.
David’s wife, Amy, was brilliantly played by Ann Slack and was one of the standouts for me. I loved her physicality, pace, storytelling and overall stage presence. A great performance all round.
Linda’s poor (but suspecting) husband Robert was played by Jeff Redfern. Jeff certainly looked the part, and I liked the rapport he had with both actors who played Linda and David. There were a little too many times that he stumbled with the words, but I highly doubt many of the audience would’ve noticed this as he made is (brilliantly) part of his character.
The young and newly married couple (Clare & Jeremy) were played by Miranda Addy and Nate Booth respectively. Whilst I really enjoyed the performance from Addy, I felt that Booth was too laid back and he mumbled a little too much for my liking. There were also a few costumes from these characters that didn’t change with the passages of time, like the other characters. I’m being really picky here. Both actors were absolutely fine, and they certainly got lots of laughs from the supportive audience.
Chris Slack played the final role of the bumbling waiter Carlos. Despite the terrible wig, Chris used his brilliant facial expressions and physicality to enhance the comedy. At times, all he did was a look, and it immediately enhanced the scene. A lovely performance which goes to show that no part is indeed too small.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable night at the theatre. As I said above, the production values were very strong with this society and if this is the standard of work that they can produce, during the end of a global pandemic then the future bodes well for future productions. I thank Paul Lomax for his hospitality and hope to return to see Fylde Coast Players again sometime soon.