Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World

Date 21st April 2017
Society Cobham Players
Venue Cobham Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Rodney Pearson
Musical Director n/a
Choreographer n/a

Report

Author: Jon Fox

Cobham Players made a bold and innovative choice to provide us with a really community based evening of theatre. Clearly inspired by "Under Milk Wood", as fully acknowledged in the admirable director Rodney Pearson's programme notes, "Sunday Morning ...." is the story of the lives of Earlsfield residents, in Ramillies Rd (fictional) during the recent past.   

Character driven (rather than plot) a small, highly animated cast of eleven played around forty characters from the whole gamut of human life. The story, if there was one, was of the interaction, fascinatingly diverse and changing nature of everyday life is this south west London suburb. Inspired by Rodney, the cast painted most effectively the rich picture of the bustle and interplay of a fast changing suburb on a typical Sunday morning.

The author, Louis de Bernieres ("Captain Corelli's Mandolin")  had lived there above a shop for a full decade. I was, however, somewhat surprised to find him sitting next to me on the night I attended. Clearly a humble and grounded man - what else would one expect from a distinguished author -  it was a good feeling to see this delightful man chuckling in pleasure at this sparkling production.

Posh Katy (the splendid Millie Hart) sat in her bathtub singing "Fever" and later smashed her baguette on a girl she was chasing. Mr Wong (Mike Dawes), coolie hat on head was shown shaving and also asked for "Lennies" (Rennies tablets!).   Mrs. Wong and Antique Annie were splendidly played by the charismatic Karen Budd.   Charlie English gave us an admirably played Dave, the market spieler and "Fagin" who ran away from his smoke filled car - a smoke bomb having been thrown - leaving his girlfriend "bird" behind.   Phil Paul played both an authoritative marching Parachute Sam, who had been in the SAS and John, who was grieving and bereft as his dog  Queenie was buried.

There were two council attendants in high viz jackets;  Samantha Myers gave us Ethel and the wonderful Maria the Screaming Greek. Potty Ingrid, with dog, was given life by Nicky Barnes.   

Susanna Williams played Deathwish Debbie, an addict, "going on the game" so convincingly. Mike Dawes and Brian Hulme were both marvellous as Thrombotic Bert and Emphysemic Eric respectively, on a wall, fags in hand. Megan Colley played a rapper Mandy and many players were other smaller roles too.   Beth Barrett was Mrs Rajiv, Honest Phil and Alan, such diverse and well played characters.

Several players narrated in turn, which brought a realistic feel to the piece. There was humour, pathos aplenty, vibrancy, resignation, aggression, angst and many other human emotions and qualities all in evident display and the interaction between all eleven players was so realistic in their wildly diverse characters.   Some played three, four, or even five roles and all eleven players did the director proud and vice versa.

The highly effective set was designed and built by Roger and Hilary Jones and the play was well lit by Stephen Farr and Chris Cathles.   Mary Taylor was on wardrobe and did a fine job. This was a highly entertaining if somewhat unusual production, which makes for a difficult one to review, by keeping fully abreast of all the fast interplay on stage, that was so engaging.

Appearing before the play was the Cobham Show Choir singing songs from well loved musicals. Opening with "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", then the "Circle of Life" through "There's No Business Like Show Business", two numbers from "Les Miserables", then "Do Re Me" into "Oom Pah Pah" and finishing with the compelling "Rhythm of Life".  

A rousing finale by the whole company and choir, with audience participation, of the iconic "You'll never walk alone" brought this intimate, wisely chosen and diverse evening to it's emotional and upbeat end.

They had some highly tuneful and spirited voices and radiated enthusiasm and love of their art which the audience certainly enjoyed as too did I. This sort of evening should be performed more often in amateur theatre, in my considered opinion.