Trivial Pursuits

Date 20th February 2020
Society Len Powell
Venue St Paul's School, Newham Street
Type of Production Play
Director Allen Christie Casson


Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

Trivial Pursuits kicks off St Paul’s (Astley Bridge) AODS 90th Birthday Production with a comedy set in Roz and Nick’s garden in the summer. There’s excitement at guessing about which musical it will be next. The guests are members of the fictitious Bolton and District Operatic Society. With set design and wardrobe by Eileen Powell it comprised of a raised patio with barbecue, drinks area complete with various beverages and punch bowl, two patio settees and chair to set the scene.

Allen Christie Casson Directs and must have had fun and pulled on experience of seeing what goes on in the amateur circuits! All of life was on show here - the bitchiness, the thinking you can play a part that you are totally unsuited for and even the blackmailing so you get the part. The exes and the affairs all add to the drama. The cast worked well together and some first night nerves were on show from one or two of the actors with a few dropped lines which I am sure will be ironed out as the week moves on. Lighting utilised the set and it worked really well with spotlights pinpointing people’s different conversations.

Carl Bottomley played Teddy - he just wants to be in Oklahoma before he is too old and you get the feeling that The Bolton and District Operatic is his life despite all his bitchy comments. He will always bring the conversation back round to him and what part he has played or wants to play. His character certainly goes on a journey getting his fingers burnt in the process, literally. His pièce de résistance was ending up in drag. His friendship with Joyce, played by Carmela Horne, is rocky one minute and supporting each other the next having a go. Joyce once played Calamity Jane or due to programme misprint Calamity Jan, the society may never let her on stage again as for seven and half minutes (who counted the minutes?!) she ad-libbed and sung two songs from another show - hilarious! Carmela’s character had to get slowly drunk through the night - she is not an alcoholic, she ‘just likes a drink’. I think it was handled well and you got the sense of a woman who sees herself as others don’t. Joyce is sister to Roz played by Jenny Peters who is hosting the Barbecue. She is desperate for her sister to get a part in Oklahoma and get her confidence back and hopefully then leave the booze alone. Roz also has her own drama to sort out. Jenny gave a solid performance.

Husband to Roz, Nick played by Ian Duckworth was the man who has all the money worries of the society. He is the man you want to be friends with - he makes the decisions and everybody wants to know what’s in his head and want him to know what’s in theirs.  Pearl played by Susie Woodley puts pressure on him to tell people, although she freely tells others they are in trouble and loves the doom and gloom of it all.

Mona played by Eileen Powell was the company choreographer and has had firm ideas over the last three years what she wants to choreograph and will try any which way she can to get it.  Played with great energy and sass.

Jessica played by Helena Carter - the ‘other woman’ and not afraid to tell you she is or tell you anything in fact you do not want to hear. Don’t mess with Jessica.

Derek played by Brendan Higgins and Deidre played by Jessica Haslam are that couple that make these sort of things awkward, split up with one still pining is always the drama in the room, then add one of them turning up with a.n.other - sit back and watch them crash and burn. Loved the line from Jessica “I will talk to you Derek as long as you don’t cry.” Brendan’s character is boring and everyone he asks confirms this for him. His attempt at the rhinoceros joke although falling flat on the cast’s ears was funny. But anyone who pays ten grand to a society so his ex can have the lead must be desperate especially if she doesn’t even want the part.

Eddie played by Robert Peters was a bizarre character in the cast, but it worked and he was very funny with great timing. Eddie grades eggs for a living and is mad on television complete with his tv magazine. He is the extra guest that no-one knows or wants but makes himself right at home and even detaches the tv aerial to get a better picture. Great Character.

St Pauls showing why they are still going strong despite the fact this play should have gone on last year but due to ill health was postponed. Well done to cast and crew. Congratulations on your 90th year and thank you for inviting me and making my guest and I so welcome