Outside Edge

Date 9th November 2018
Society Alton Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Assembly Rooms, Alton
Type of Production Play
Director Pippa Mills

Report

Author: Pauline Surrey

Cricket, comedy, chaos – so reads the cover of AODS’s programme, a neat summary of this play which was first performed in 1979. The cricket plays a subordinate role here, the play takes a wry look at marriage, and at all the various characters thrown together in this village cricket pavilion – all human life is here! The set was a rather fine cricket pavilion, complete with scoreboard, kitchen area, tea table, bench and terrace. Some good cricket kit was also in evidence.

Costumes for the ladies reflected their different personalities, from the floral summer dress to the snazzy polka dot swimsuit. The gents looked best in their cricket whites – don’t they always? – and some gloriously colourful blazers (from a local club, I believe) were sported to great effect.

Outside Edge is a jolly evening’s entertainment, even if the play, and the comedy within it, are now somewhat dated. Its cricket setting is surely something all Brits can relate to: the sound of leather on willow, cucumber sandwiches, flasks of tea, mothers knitting and chatting, all on a beautiful village green. I guess that’s what I’ve always thought – little did I realise what goes on behind the scenes in the pavilion!  Here, all human life is displayed, it would seem. 

We had the arrogant young solicitor with the flashy car, and shy new girlfriend, only eye candy, nothing serious, who feels terribly out of her depth, and who he totally ignores. Harry Stuart and Lauren Palmer presented Alex and Sharon to us: one hoped that Alex would be taken down a peg or two, and Sharon looked lovely in her totally inappropriate sparkly, white, full-skirted dress – she’d dolled herself up for him, but he was totally oblivious, only concerned with himself.

The Main Man of the cricket club, without whom surely the club would have collapsed, was Roger (Richard Seeckts), the Captain, resplendent in purple blazer and cap. He was totally focused on the game, once he had finally got his somewhat lackadaisical team on board. He bossed his wife Miriam (Liz Weston) around constantly, much to her annoyance, and one sensed that maybe soon she would rebel (or am I only thinking of life in 2018, rather than 1979?) Good characterisation again from these two characters.

Bob (Mark Bluemel), rather uninterested in cricket it seemed, more concerned with rushing off to help his demanding ex-wife, and hiding this from his current one Ginnie (Jane Gray), who of course turned up to find out what was going on. Ginnie was totally bored by cricket, and spent her time sunning herself on a lounger, occasionally making acerbic comments to all and sundry.

Then there was Kevin, with his lovely Geordie accent (Is John Ogden from that part of the world, surely he must be!), the cooking fanatic with his powerful and smothering wife Maggie (Alison Crow). It was fairly difficult to accept the hints that he was her ‘little Kevin’, as he towered over her, but those are the constraints of casting in a local production, I guess, and it did add something. They played the comedy in their partnership very well.

We never saw Dennis’s wife, but he was always creeping around the stage, sidling up to Miriam in a rather threatening, lecherous way, which innocent Miriam didn’t know how to handle. Dennis (Darren White) was the wheeler dealer, upwardly mobile, proud (but shortlived) owner of a new BMW, out to impress all.

The play delves into all the marital relationships, including Dennis and his off stage wife’s, very amusingly, and also takes a look at the relationships between this motley crew of characters thrown together like this in a club. Resentments; jealousies; attraction or lack of it; the desire to impress; superiority; caring for or ignoring people’s feelings; helpfulness of lack of it; oh yes – and a certain interest in cricket, or a lack of it!

A great ensemble piece and a fine piece of entertainment from AODS.