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Light One Up

Date

3rd December 2016

Society

Marde Hen Productions

Venue

The Strutts Centre, Belper

Type of Production

Play

Director

Jane Wilton

Report

Author: Joyce Handbury

‘Light One Up’ is the latest play put on by Marde Hen Productions who are a group set up to give support and backing to local new writers. It was written by Jane Wilton who joined the local scene in 2000 and has acted in and directed many productions. The play was born out of Jane’s fascination with the sub-culture that emerged after smoking in public places was banned and people were ‘forced’ to seek alternative venues. It is set predominantly under a dilapidated gazebo at the back of a fish factory where workers lunch, munch, chat and ‘light up’. There wasn’t a set as such, scenes were implied by the use of props which were moved on and off swiftly and smoothly by the players and changing clothes were on a rail at the side. All this was done in semi-darkness. There was a cast of nine (one we didn’t encounter till Act 2) and what an exceptional group they were, each and everyone one was utterly superb making their character so believable. I was awe struck by their ability to ‘get inside’ the minds of their character and deliver the perceptions, torments, fears and dreams in such an insightful way, to us, the audience. There was not one weak link in the whole cast. The discussions they have and the topics covered concerning everyday happenings and events were so cleverly written and delivered - I particularly loved the discussion re the pros and cons of plastic surgery. We, the audience, were privileged to hear what actually made each of them ‘tick’ as one by one they came forward and told us of their background history. They were, in a way, seeking to protect themselves from their secret emotional traumas which they were not willing or able to divulge to their fellow workmates. Ann Taylor wonderfully portrayed the anger, bitterness and frustration of Sandra Buckle, let down, she feels, by her daughter and equally so was Verna Bayliss as Betty Fishback-Powers, a non-smoking, prudish secretary who is asked several times ‘why she is outside’ but that is revealed to us, in her story. Terry Stevenson was splendid as Bruce Steadman who has a very decisive, matter of fact opinion on most things. His delivery of his many sardonic and curt one-liners was super. Another fine performance came from Kerry-Ann Roe as the food lover and magazine reader, Lisa Wardlow, who believes that food makes her happy and Wayne Parkin perfectly captured the disposition of the impassioned, intellectual, tormented by past events, left-wing poet, Mervyn Greene. The soon to be retired lollipop lady, Floss Clemence, who has such low self-esteem, was gloriously portayed by Jane Robertson and Martin Weston was terrific as her son, John. I was totally intrigued by this character as in the first Act he just followed his mother about, not speaking, and it wasn’t till after her death that he spoke and through his outpourings, you began to realise that all his life his mother had prefaced everything with ‘Our John……’ saying such things as – ‘Our John is intellectually disabled’, - ‘Our John is …..etc. etc.’ and only now, after her death, does he feel able to express himself. Mik Horvath was first-rate as Simon Pinkton, a very troubled gay man, who we found out had been in an abusive relationship and all he wanted was to be able to tell someone and to feel safe and ‘Duvet’ Dave Loverock, a DJ, was hilariously played by Pip Price. During the interval I went to the small bar area supposedly for a quiet drink, but this very soon disturbed by the cast, still in character but now dressed in their finery, carrying on as if they were in a bar themselves, ordering drinks and chatting to the ‘audience’. I thought this was the start of a retirement party for Floss, but when some of us, along with the cast, did the ‘Congo’ back to our seats we soon found out that it was for the wedding of Mervyn and Lisa who now had a baby that Mervyn thought his girlfriend had terminated. This was an amazing piece of theatre, so ingeniously and skilfully written and so astutely acted that I was totally immersed in it from start to finish. Jane, Writer and Director, and all the actors should be immensely proud of this truly outstanding production.