Out of Focus
28th October 2017
St Vincent's Dramatic Society
St Vincent's Church Hall
Author: Christine Hunter Hughes
Out of Focus is a light comedy from the pen of the prolific Peter Gordon. It has been said of his plays that "Peter Gordon writes about life, sometimes it is bizarre and funny, sometimes it is sad, but it is always entertaining", and this production by St Vincent’s was certainly no exception. Briefly the plot does focus on the quadruple over-booking of the Church Hall by the inept vicar’s wife which results in a disparate mix of characters, who eventually unite to produce a pantomime.
As the play is set in a church hall the set was certainly most appropriate, and good use was made of the various entrances and exits, all appropriately sign-posted and talking to the brownies via the window worked very well. Being set in ‘the present’ costumes were appropriate and plentiful, especially when it came to the pantomime costumes which were very good.
I, and I suspect anyone who has ever attended a rehearsal, would have laughed out loud at the ‘rehearsal’ scene in Act 2, all the various and familiar characteristics appearing, the one who has changed their mind about going on stage, the one who turns up late, the one unable to concentrate etc. each of these was well portrayed so immediately identifiable and therefore very funny, the more so for anyone who has been in that position.
Do take care to ‘rehearse’ or at least have in mind some sort of ‘business’ to cover laughter from the audience. On several occasions the next line was being delivered well before the laughter had even begun to die down. I fully accept, it is a difficult balance to strike, too long and the pace suffers, too short and the audience become almost afraid to laugh in case they ‘miss the next bit’ but do bear it in mind so that your audience are able to laugh freely.
Unfortunately, there were a couple of memory lapses which did result in a lack of pace, but these were generally overcome well. Do watch the casting some of the ages did not quite match the lines and therefore made it less believable and potentially less funny than it could have been.
That said, there were some wonderful and believable characters who displayed excellent comic timing. Diction was generally good, and we were able to hear well. My congratulations to the lady who was dunked in the water butt – very brave and very realistic – and real water as well. (I still am quite unable to work out why there was a water butt there – but what better reason than the sheer visual comedy moment it provided), but that, combined with the facial expressions of the rest of the cast certainly made it a moment to remember. The drunken scene was also well played – it is easy to go OTT on these occasions, but this was just the right degree and done well.
My congratulations to everyone connected with this entertaining and very funny production, your audience, including myself and my husband, thoroughly enjoyed the evening so thank you for a most enjoyable evening.