Let's be 'avin' you and Funeral Tea

Date 14th March 2020
Society Ormskirk Theatre Company
Venue The Upmarket Theatre, Church Street, Ormskirk
Type of Production Play
Director Pat Baker and Gary Simpson


Author: Jim Briscoe

Well, as I go to press, it looks like this may have been the last production I’ll witness for some considerable time as Coronavirus (Covid 19) strengthens its grips on the country!  During the past seven days, I have been contacted by all my Societies in District 6  advising me that all their productions for at least the next three months have now been either cancelled or postponed... this would appear to be mirrored, not only across the North West, but across the country as a whole... sad times!

So, on the evening of the 15th March, I attended The Upmarket Theatre to witness two one act plays served up by Ormskirk Theatre Company.  The first... ‘Let’s Be ‘Avin’ You’ was written by Geoff Buckingham and directed by Pat Baker, the second ‘Funeral Tea’ written by Pat Wilson and directed by Gary Simpson.

The first play ‘Let’s Be ‘Avin’ You’ tells the story of Botchington Police Station when it finds itself faced with closure because of its notoriously poor performance. That is, until they enlist the help of the local Ladies Knitting Circle! When ’Sergeant Pickles’ - played by Les Rippon, ‘Constable Cackett’ - played by Paul Harding and Police Station Cleaner ‘Dolly’- played by Angela Johannsen realise that their Police Station is under threat of closure by the ruthless ‘Chief Inspector Allcock’ played by Gary Simpson, they vow to do everything in their power to keep it open. But their future looks even bleaker when they learn that the country's most notorious criminal gang...‘The Ditchford Gang’ have moved onto their ‘patch’.  Adding even more concern to an already dire situation, they then discover that Chief Inspector Allcock is being totally distracted by the arrival of a ‘new, much younger girlfriend’... Miss Dixon-Beaver played by Jennifer Edwards and to keep up with her ‘demands’, the Chief Inspector has been prescribed ‘Viagra’ which inadvertently gets swopped for ‘Nytol’ tablets with drastic results... can things get worse ...Oh I think so!

As the Police Station Staff stumble and bumble their way through this amusing plot they are joined in their endeavours by the ladies of the Botchington Ladies Knitting Circle... ‘Hilda’ played by Jackie Roscoe, ‘Myrtle’ played by Nicky Rippon and ‘Dottie’ played by Ann Todd and together they surprisingly apprehend ‘ The Ditchford Gang’ (who we don’t meet). We also discover that ‘Miss Dixon-Beaver’ is in fact a member of the said gang! Completing the cast, playing the part of the ‘Courier,’ is Callum Rigby.

The play ends with our unlikely heroes...‘Sergeant Pickles’, ‘Constable Cackett’ and ‘Dolly’ all being promoted; Chief Inspector Allcock being demoted and we see the Police Station Staff and their new found friends from the ‘Knitting Circle’ celebrating their triumph, which results in a huge donation to allow the police station to remain open, plus an imminent ‘Royal’ visit!

The second play ‘Funeral Tea’ is set in the front parlour of a house in Yorkshire and tells the story of ‘Uncle Jacob Starkie’s’ funeral tea. Mrs Ellis caters for small weddings and funerals where she usually serves ‘boiled ham’ but seeing how this was her first ‘cremation’ she didn’t think ‘boiled ham’ appropriate. As the funeral party sip their tea, it becomes apparent that the ‘urn’ with dear Uncle Jacob’s ashes has been misplaced! When ‘Sarah’ suggests the tea tastes odd and they then discover the tea urn is still in
the cupboard...the ladies then face up to the appalling possibility!

A cast of five ladies take us on a hilarious adventure and provide us with some colourful characters along the way.  The party goers were Jackie Roscoe who played ‘Mrs Murgatroyd’, Pat Baker who plays Miss Parker, Lesley Roper who plays Miss Starkie, Ann Todd who plays Mrs Booth and finally our caterer ‘Mrs Ellis’ who was played by Angela Johannsen.

During the party we find out about the relationships each of them had with the departed... we even find out that the ‘perennial funeral party gate crasher’ - ‘Mrs Booth’ didn’t know the deceased at all! There was some tremendous one liner’s ...‘For those in Peril on the Tea’...‘Teapot Ghost of Jacob Starkie’.  The Up Market Theatre had just the right ambience for both these two plays, but in particular this one!

These two plays were very much ensemble pieces, their success dependent on all members from both casts working together as teams!  We had no leading ladies or leading men... just two sets of actors, intent on acting their hearts out, whilst creating some wonderful characters and giving of their best in an attempt to entertain those present and ‘ENTERTAIN THEY DID!  What more can one ask...  congrats to each and every one on a job well done!

Congrats also to Pat Baker and Gary Simpson, our Directors for some great casting and some great direction and congrats also to Alan Baker for lights and sound. 

Thanks you so much for inviting my wife and I we really did enjoy both plays.

In closing... the next few months are obviously going to be difficult times... stay safe, stay in touch!  I find myself in a couple of the ‘at risk’ categories, but if I can help in anyway shape or form,  please feel free to contact me either by e-mail, message, text or phone... if I can help I will.... see you all on the other side!