Review – Dan Haynes – Beccles & Bungay Journal – 22/6/07
Enjoyable farce full of bouncy silliness
Derek Benfield farce is a light-hearted romp among a host of great British caricatures, ranging from the red- faced, trigger- happy aristocrat, to the dithering tea lady – and the Loddon Players all threw themselves into their roles with a knowing sense of the ridiculous.
Ian Fulcher was a blustering treat as the pompous Lord Elrood, stuck in “his second childhood” as his wife puts it, and Carolyn Dover played the part of Lady Elrood perfectly, floating about the stage with an endearing cluelessness that won her many laughs.
Melvin Frankland and Pauline Mason were hilarious as the gangsters Capone and Wedgewood respectively, producing a seamless lesson in slapstick comedy reminiscent of the Marx brothers, and Gina Buntrock’s interpretation of the hapless new maid Ada, was an audience favourite.
However, the play’s success pivoted on the versatility of Mark Fox, who played the many faces of Chester Dreadnought. His unrelenting fear of the gangsters drove the play forward, and his attempt to hide himself within a suit of armour at the beginning of the second act was a joy to behold.
The set which had been constructed by the Players, was also impressive. Set entirely in a baronial hall, the painted stone walls had a cartoon quality that added to the plays sense of heightened reality, and the clever placement of a suit of armour in the first act gave the stage a grandiose, if fittingly surreal, quality.
The players used the stage entrances well, with characters seeming to stream on and off the stage from every direction possible. The result was a giddying sense of disorientation, which added to the plays sense of mayhem, and was used fantastically during the slapstick chase scenes as the gangsters pursued Chester.
Overall, it was an enjoyable night, and the Players were thoroughly successful in creating Benfield’s farce with all the bouncy silliness he would have intended.