The Opposite Sex

Date 13th April 2018
Society Leighton Buzzard Drama Group
Venue Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Ann Kempster

Report

Author: Richard Fitt

LBDG annual spring sortie into comedy is always worth the trip to the far reaches of District 2 and this year was no exception. Their 2018 offering was ‘The Opposite Sex’ by that excellent playwright David Tristram. Set in the 80’s it is a four-handed domestic comedy about two waring married couples, Mark and Vicky, Judith and Eric where it turns out that each has in the past had an affair with the other’s partner. The action takes place entirely in Mark’s and Vicky’s home. Vicky’s regular ‘Avon’ representative is on holiday and her stand in, Judith calls round in her place to take her order. Mark is somewhat taken aback as he recognises her as an old flame from eight years previous and in a moment of nostalgic madness invites her and her husband Eric round for dinner the following Saturday. Upon arrival it is soon evident that Mark and Judith are not the only ones with a secret, as it turns out Eric has had a more recent extramarital affair with Mark’s wife, Vicky. What should have been a pleasant dinner party therefore soon descends into a social nightmare with each party struggling to keep the truth from their partner, glossing over their indiscretions amid an atmosphere of barbed insults, hostility and a punch-up, all of which kept us, the audience belly laughing from start to finish.

The box set by Mike Ward and Colin Delamore was an absolute gem, a wonderful creation of a 1980’s lounge, which anybody who was around at the time would have instantly recognised, complete with obligatory hatchway to the kitchen, classic 80’s decor and three piece suit, glass shelving and one of those Chinese paper lightshades without which no aspiring, yuppy, 80’s home was complete. And of course, an obligatory set of golf clubs parked in the corner. The ‘piece de resistance’ however was the carpet, I don’t know who laid it but it appeared to be as one piece, perfectly professionally fitted to the entire stage! Brilliant attention to detail which couldn’t be faulted.  With their usual high-quality lighting and sound by Mike Ward and Tom Davies we were set to go.

The four actors were all right out of the top draw, each with a great sense of comic timing. Mark Croft as Mark threw insults and sarcasm around with side splitting hilarity and was the driving force of the action as the consequences of his invitation comes back to bite him.  

Jo Taylor (Vicky), who I have now seen in several roles, just gets better and better and is fast becoming the ultimate consummate actress, here demonstrating how to be both on the offensive and the defensive in a domestic argument with text book skill.

Rob Taylor (Eric) whose performance last year in God’s Official still brings tears to my eyes does comic grumpy and anger so well he should come with health warning. His dead pan facial expressions are absolutely priceless. Pity the script wasn’t changed slightly to suit his beanpole frame though, as he could hardly be described as ‘a thirteen-stone lump of lard.’

The jewel in the crown though has to be Trish Turner as Judith.  This was an inspired piece of casting, her ‘dolly-bird’ looks with the working class accent bringing a more complex, out of place dimension to the otherwise 80’s yuppy dinner party, something of which she took full comic advantage. With an extensive range to her delivery and clearly very much at home on the stage she is definitely a talent to watch.

Director Ann Kempster and her high quality cast did a great job with this and the attention to detail was evident to see. I doubt if a profession group could have done this play much better.  It’s a play with lots of long awkward pauses, requiring great body language, which in the hands of lesser actors could easily drop the pace, but the timing was so good almost every one of which was greeted with a belly laugh. Also a special mention for the very clever final bow, which momentarily confused the audience, performed sitting down and by raising a glass to the audience. Not seen that done before - Very neat!. I gather there was a run on tickets after the opening night as the word spread, which probably says more about the quality of the production better than I ever could.

Thank you once again to LBDG for a splendid and hilarious evening’s entertainment and in particular to Deryn for looking after us so royally.