Stop the Play

Date 20th April 2022
Society Bonkers Theatrical
Venue Bonkers Playhouse
Type of Production Play
Director Mark Walker
Written By David Spicer


Author: Nigel Hancocks

This being my first visit to a production in this miniature but significantly equipped theatre; I was intrigued and fascinated how such an intimate venue would work and how an audience would react to the closeness of the caricatures. Bonkers Theatre is, as the name implies, a little strange to the initial eye. The entrance is just like you would expect if you were visiting a local newsagent or hairdressers, but, as you enter you are immediately taken into Bonkers world of corner shop theatrical establishments with every facility available and nothing spared. An example that could be used by many.

I was greeted by Mark Walker the play director and owner of the theatre and his wife Jane, in the well stocked bar, reception and refreshment area that also doubled as the display for trophies and awards presented to the previous shows, many of which bear the name of Nanette Lovell MBE, my predecessor and NODA Regional Councillor. From this spotless area, equipped with two WCs, one of which is designed for disabled visitors, there is a door that, when opened, invites you into the attractive auditorium and stage area and one of the comfortable 40 available seats. I was encouraged into this wonderful world of showbiz extravaganza and shown my seat to await the start of the show.

The play is designed to, and please accept my apologies for entering the author David Spicer’s world of naughtiness, demonstrates just how crap and downbeat professional theatre can be as it gets its original intentions wrapped up into progressive frustrations and dreadful script alterations coupled with out of line caricatures who display neurotic tendencies that drag the audience into the mad world of drama at its worst. Yes as described on Bonkers website (an alternative to programs) “A fist bitingly funny send up of everything bad about bad theatre”.   

As the curtain opened we were introduced to three of the five ‘neurotic’ caricatures. The Stage Manager played convincingly by Bob Mutch. He is expected to play the subservient problem sorter, dressed inappropriately, but correct for this production, with a head torch that is never on at the correct time. Bob’s portrayal was very reminiscent of many SMs lost in their world of confusion managing to obtain every requested additional prop, usually at the last minute, including a monkey that is never used! On stage with him, two of the ‘professional cast members’ fantastically played by Sam Hammonds and the often convincingly confused Gordon Richie with his expressive facial interpretations. In the first instance they are the main caricatures, but not for long! Enter on stage the Director Josh Pugh. Oh yes, we all have had to put up with this type of disorganised person who thinks they are in charge but are not. Josh played this very challenging role with perfect self appreciation and self confidence. We watched as he was totally devoid of independence and all the time under the control of the ‘never seen’ writer who rewrote the play almost on a daily basis. The writer expected the director to convince the cast up to the last rehearsal day and beyond. Just when we, the audience, are ‘with it’, Alan Galway enters. He plays the confused member of the cast that in amateur productions we are all familiar with. He portrays an older member who can remember, inaccurately, his past performances and is unable to remember his part in this production. Leisa Cooke then is introduced as a new cast member; she would like to take over but is thwarted by the final cast member Daniel Fortune. How Daniel kept to grips with his variety of caricatures was amazing. His final renditions were disguised as a feministic gay man with convincing wafts of the hand and puckered lips. Hilarious! I hope that you the reader are satisfactorily confused? Yes, good. The production is aimed, with the excellent adaptation of the director and his talented cast, to not only underline the worst productions (either amateur or professional) but the worst script in the worst situation. Any person involved with theatre will, embarrassingly, remember a production that they have been involved in.

In my opinion the entire cast needs to be complimented for this production. Although it is very difficult to portray, the fact that all five convincingly managed to depict this tricky production with complete ‘professionalism’ is outstanding. It is one of those plays that is either successful or not. However, this cast, crew and production staff were outstandingly successful and hilarious in their adaptation. Well done.