Raiders of the Lost Monarch written by Beverley Beveridge
3rd February 2018
Benenden Village Hall
Type of Production
Author: Anne Lawson
Another Beverley masterpiece. Usually starting with a basic popular panto and giving it a twist, this time the tale takes a female Indiana Jones namely leather jacketed Lindy Anna, splendid man from the ministry Sir Barrington Darcyarcy and involving numerous South American dubious characters. The task is to overcome arch baddie, dog fur crazy Nutella Brazil and her two supporting reluctant sidekicks, who have cunningly abducted our Monarch and two beloved corgis to sell to the dastardly Blowsmelt - Mark Barron-Reid delivering his script with a good German accent. Assisted by a pair of bumbling guitar and Snap playing Secret Agents, aristocratic Parisian Pearly Puss and her three delightful Kittens, a rather rusty Genie, a voluptuous Dame Titty and of course the audience, come to the rescue. By now you’ll be thinking I’m making all this up! It must be the chilli peppers and grasshoppers in El Pongo’s Cantina. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the desert dwellers yet – of course it’s a talking miserable Cactus, and Anteater Ant and Geck. Of course, all’s well that ends well and the goodies are knighted.
The live music was led by Graham Beveridge on keyboard, Simon Pain drums, Robin Vesma bass guitar, and electric double bass with the addition this year of versatile Lyn Grimsey playing clarinet, sax and percussion. Great sound with an exciting repertoire ranging from Jazz to Pop, Latin, Ragtime and Old Time.
Splendid new red velvet curtains opened on a seductive entry of Nutella in a gold sparkling, slinky black frock, wonderful wig supplied by Derek Easton, long gloves, and great cigarette holder. A very strong baddie soubrette performance from Debbie Katis assisted by a well-rehearsed routine from a sextet of little red devils. This led into TV studio for the news bulletin - The Queen had been abducted! The Buckingham Palace backdrop excellent. Great props with muddled news items nicely read by Newsreaders, Oliver Morris, Roseanne Nichol and Hector Powell with Reporter Beth Burnett and Royal representation from Coco Hamilton and Charlotte Bathew.
Scenery construction and painting was taken on Peter Ellis and team of both experienced and newcomers to backstage work and produced some stunning work. I particularly admired the British Rail train scene and the rolling countryside! Using cast for moving items around the stage not only saved time but gave the opportunity of extra responsibility. Great attention to detail particularly in the Cantina – a real Mexican feel. Lighting, sound and effects all efficiently managed. The Act 2 surprise with the big screen and the film of Policewoman scouring Benenden village was brilliant.
Costumes from the wardrobe ladies were spot on for all. The construction of Cactus, Ant and Geck costumes commendable as were the performances of Cameron Rance, Archie Bunch and Seth Williams. First class footwear throughout especially all the boots. Make-up in keeping all round, cat face paint, a colourful Genie, pink hair and specs of Titty. droopy moustaches etc.
Beverley Beveridge’s direction is always interesting, good stage use, good clear numbers, slick movement, dances created by Fiona Boorman well performed - tango, mime, and conga. Strong leads and cameo characterisation. Bonnie Sullivan as Lindy with her lilting Welsh input, Ian Malaugh Northern Dame, French Puss most elegant cat suited Tilly Milnes, Mexican El Pongo Ian Aldridge. Special mention to the British Rail Announcer Felix Gautier for his excellent cameo. The Queen was regally performed by Katelyn Malaugh. Benenden Players are a great community company and this production was no exception. Gentlemen audience participation went well with their four-step routine, sombreros, maracas and always nice to have little ones invited up on stage.