Grayshott Stagers
(Honorary Patron: Vanessa Redgrave CBE)

LOOK WHO'S TALKING - November 2011

The Grayshott Stagers' final production in this, their Diamond Jubilee year, was "Look Who's Talking" by the well-known character actor Derek Benfield. Performed over three nights at the Grayshott Village Hall, it is the chaotic aftermath of a boozy Friday night for Sheila (ostensibly a get-together with old friend Jane, but ending with coffee at the flat of Jane's acquaintance Brian) and her solicitor husband, Andrew (an equally wine-fuelled office party).

John, Angie and Jennifer With only a hazy recollection of the night's events Sheila is surprised by the arrival of Brian for Sunday lunch, followed shortly by Andrew's secretary, Carole (with suitcase), expecting to be taken on a trip to Rome.

Jennifer Charters played the confused Sheila, beautifully conveying her pleasure at the thought that something romantic may have occurred, and her horror that it actually had occurred! Brian (the splendid Paul Bailey) displayed an excellent balance of amused satisfaction at Sheila's discomfort and utter bewilderment in the face of the complicated and desperate attempts to explain his presence to Andrew.

In recent years John Dowsett has become an increasingly influential member of the acting resources at Grayshott and in his portrayal of Andrew he once again demonstrated his comic talents to great effect. As his glamorous (but disappointed) secretary, Brezetta Thonger made the most of a part that, after her initial confrontation with Andrew, became increasingly sidelined. The eventual arrival of Jane, played by Angie Hilder, provided the scope for even more convoluted plotting, and her resorting to gin and Champagne (and sherry) was subtly done.

Unusually for farce, the play did not rely on a lot of 'business' to carry the plot and the sure hand of Director June Hegarty was evident throughout, undoubtedly helped by the superb comic timing displayed by the whole cast. Where she was not helped, however, was by the play itself. Where there is little or no reliance on physical humour, it must come from the plot which in this case failed to produce the demented, inevitable spiral of farce leading to the heaping of laugh upon laugh. That the whole cast were busy misleading and being misled, meant that the narrative did not have any great momentum. It is even more to the Stagers' credit that they carried it off with such great aplomb and obvious enjoyment on both sides of the curtain.

The set The quality of the production was, as ever, enhanced by the beautifully designed and constructed set, the spot-on wardrobe and make-up and the unobtrusive management of stage, lighting and sound. The friendly and efficient front-of-house and refreshment teams completed the experience.

With the Stagers contemplating their next sixty years with One Act Plays, "Something's Afoot" and "Calendar Girls" planned for 2012 they can be rightly proud of their past, present and future.


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