Stags and Hens

Date 25th March 2017
Society Cast and Crew Theatre Workshop
Venue War Memorial Hall, Canvey Island
Type of Production Play
Director Sarah Lepley


Author: Tessa Davies

This play is not performed very often these days but it is a classic Willy Russell script.  We had plenty of warning about the sexual content and bad language and, as I am familiar with the play, I was well prepared for that.    Written in 1978 as an in-house piece for the students of Manchester Polytechnic, it was finally published as a full script in 1986.  It was written as a contempory piece for young people and references the social life of the time.   This cast may not have been of the age that the author intended but they still produced a realistic and well observed production.

This company have a very strong cast and the ladies, in particular, produced some great characters.  They were well observed and portrayed exactly what the author intended when he wrote the play.  They were, Zahna Hull (Linda, the bride-to-be) Maxine Neil (Frances, The Best Friend) Sally Catling (Bernadette, The Bossy Boots) Deb Adams (Carol, the Work Colleague) and Lou Brewster with a beautifully observed performance as the Drunken Cry Baby, Maureen.

The male cast also produced some good characterisations; Rob Simmons (Eddy, The Violent Best Man) Andy Shore (Robbie, The Ladies Man) Martin Lepley (Billy, The Oddball) and Matthew Willis (Kav, The Artist).   Michael Jay played the groom Dave but, as he spends almost the entire play with his head in the toilet bowl, he did not have much opportunity to create a character!  The cast was completed by Peter Dumenil as the Rock Star and Jeff Hodgkins as the Roadie.

The Director, Sarah Lepley, did well to get the entire action on the small stage in this venue although there were times when it felt incredibly crowded!  The scenery was well done but I would have liked to see ‘working’ sinks that were used properly by the actors.  If you are supposed to wash your hands in a sink, then you need to do that, not just wave them around under the dry taps.

Similarly, the costumes were not always right for the period.  Robbie’s dialogue states, quite specifically, that he is wearing a suit, and a Hepworth’s suit was named in the script.  It made no sense, therefore, that the character was wearing cream jacket and grey trousers, absolutely, NOT what was called for, although the stain was very realistic!  A couple of the ladies’ outfits were also not right for the period.  It is small details like that that make all the difference to the plausibility of the play.

Overall, though, the performance was up to Cast and Crew’s standard, a well-directed, well-acted play.