The Good Life

Date 20th March 2024
Society Fylde Coast Players
Venue Lowther Pavillion
Type of Production Play
Director Paul Lomax
Written By John Esmonde and Bob Larbey & Jeremy Sans


Author: Myles Sutcliffe

May I take the opportunity to thank Fylde Coast Players for inviting me to their production of "The Good Life," a charming adaptation of the iconic 1970s BBC sitcom by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, skillfully brought to life on stage by Jeremy Sans. This witty play follows the journey of Tom and Barbara Good, who opt out of the rat race for a sustainable lifestyle, beautifully portraying their transformation of their Surbiton home into a self-sufficient lifestyle. As they grow their own food, raise livestock, make clothes, and even generate electricity from manure, the Goods epitomise their vision of "The Good Life." Meanwhile, their neighbours, Jerry and Margo Leadbetter, cling to tradition, creating a delightful contrast. Through humour and heart, the play explores themes of resilience, community, and the pursuit of happiness.

Under the expert direction of Paul Lomax, this 70s sitcom was masterfully brought to life on stage. Paul skillfully guided this production, from the performances of the cast to the overall execution of the show. Replicating a beloved British sitcom cherished by many within the audience is no easy task, but Paul rose to the challenge and succeeded. His clear direction provided the cast with a solid framework to deliver their performances, ensuring that the essence of the original sitcom was preserved while also allowing room for creative interpretation. Paul's attention to detail and commitment to authenticity contributed significantly to the success of the production, delighting audiences, and capturing the nostalgia of the era. As the audience entered the auditorium, they were greeted by a nostalgic soundtrack of 70s hits, setting the scene for a trip down memory lane. The meticulously crafted set effectively transported viewers into the worlds of the Goods and the Leadbetters, with each household occupying its designated space on stage. Attention to detail was evident in every prop and piece of furniture, enhancing the authenticity of the setting. The production then shone a spotlight on Tom Good's 40th birthday celebration.

Andy Cooke and Gill Drinkwater delivered brilliant performances, capturing the essence of the husband-and-wife duo with impeccable comedic timing and on-stage chemistry. Their portrayal of contrasting personalities within the marriage added depth to the characters, leaving the audience captivated by their nuanced performances.

As the play unfolded, we were introduced to Margo and Jerry Leadbetter, perfectly portrayed by Rich Spilman and Rosie Withers. Rich truly brought Jerry to life as a devoted husband striving to maintain the lifestyle his wife, Margo, has cultivated for them. He exuded an air of hardworking determination while secretly yearning for a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle. Rich’s portrayal of this character provided a stark contrast to Margo's uptight demeanour, offering a sense of balance to their dynamic and enriching the overall narrative of this production. Rosie Withers delivered a standout performance as Margo Leadbetter, infusing the character with charm and comedic flair. Margo, a well-meaning but somewhat oblivious snob, provided moments of hilarity while also serving as a relatable figure for the audience. Rosie's portrayal of Margo was a true highlight of the show, capturing the essence of the character with finesse. Her ability to balance the comedy within scenes, made Margo a memorable character, provoking natural laughter from the audience throughout the performance.

Connor O'Beirne and Dawn Martin seamlessly transitioned between multiple roles with ease. Their ability to fully embody each character through body language, accents, and facial expressions added depth to the production, captivated the audience with their versatility. The performance was further elevated by Don Green's portrayal of "Sir" and Heather Cartmell's interpretation of Felicity, both of whom contributed significantly to the sense of community within the production. Their contributions added a rich layer to the dynamics of the play, enhancing the overall experience for the audience.

Clara Redfearn's entrance as Geraldine the Goat, left the audience in stitches. Clara's portrayal of the character was brilliantly absurd, perfectly capturing the comedic essence of this quirky addition to the performance. Her execution was flawless, with her costume, including a washing-up glove as udders, adding to the comedic value of the scene. The audience was thoroughly entertained by Clara's performance, with her initial appearance likened to an animatronic.

While the performance showcased remarkable projection from every cast member, allowing even those at the back of the full auditorium to hear the play, it could have benefited from the use of microphones. Subtle jokes throughout the production may have been missed due to the lack of amplification. However, I must commend the cast for their dedication to ensuring their lines were heard clearly by all.

The set design was brilliantly executed, providing defined areas for each scene, and effectively immersing the audience into the world of the play. However, one minor criticism lies in the occasional confusion caused by cast members inadvertently drifting into scenes meant for other locations. This detracted from the overall immersion of the production and may have distracted some audience members as characters unexpectedly entered different areas of the stage. While there were minor technical shortcomings, the performance showcased the talent and dedication of the cast and crew.

Once again, I extend my thanks to Fylde Coast Player for their invitation to production. It was a true delight to witness the society's wholehearted embrace of the essence of amateur theatre. From the actors who brought the characters to life on stage, to the members who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and the volunteers who lent their support in various capacities, everyone played a vital role in the success and creation of this production. It was evident that every member of the society poured their passion and talent into making the show a memorable experience for all.