Association of Community Theatre

Show Reviews October 2017


Altrincham Little Theatre


Haywire is one of the many plays that have been written by Eric Chappell, but he is probably best remembered for writing the television programme, “Rising Damp”. One can see some of the similarities in the characters between that and this play. The dialogue is very fast paced and earnest in delivery in both genres, especially from the lead characters, Mr Rigsby, and here in the play by Alec.


Alec Firth is having an affair with his assistant, Liz, and has organized his domestic life so that they can go to Spain on holiday without making Alec's wife Maggie suspicious. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty!

On the doorstep, in quick succession, are: Phoebe, Alec's mother, who has discharged herself from her old people's home; Alec's son, Jamie, with a broken ankle; and his daughter, heavily pregnant and not planning to marry the child's father. Liz is constantly in contact as she urges Alec to hurry up so they can be away to Spain for their days in the sun.


Firstly I must congratulate Chris Burton on remembering such a lot of dialogue and delivering it with rapidly. The occasional stumble over a line or two can be expected when the interaction with other characters has to be spoken so quickly in order that the play is able to flow at a good pace, and to ensure the comedy punch lines are delivered effectively.


Chris in the role of Alec Firth, as the husband, son and father with old fashioned values, but who is prepared to commit adultery, was well played. He had lovely, understated comic timing in the line delivery. One, was almost exasperated and sympathetic for him by the end of the play, as he desperately tried to get away with his assistant, only to be thwarted by his dysfunctional family members, just when he thought he had solved the problems they created.


It was an unexpected twist when Maggie, his wife, decided not to go on her holiday after all as she felt her planned affair with a fellow passenger had sparked her conscience and guilt. Both characters seem to finish the play thinking that “the grass is not always greener” – this time, perhaps?


Janet Reidsma was great as the acid tongued, acerbic mother – Phoebe. She gave an excellent performance as the nosey grandma that misses nothing, and who really dislikes her son. There was also a vulnerability in her character that at the end, made you warm a little more to her.


Christine Parry, Bob Millar and Georgina Dalgleish gave good supporting performances as members of this family, with Lisa Barker playing the frustrated mistress.


Congratulations must go to the set design, props and sound people. The set, designed by Garth Jones and built by a small army of others, was effective as the living room of the flat above the book store. The background picture looking out of the window created an impression of height. Props, must have depleted every cast member’s book shelves to fill the set with countless volumes of reading material. There were also some other small details, such as the sole of the shoe that added to the dialogue and comedy. Sound effects were spot on with their timing of the phone ring, and the addition of a well-known 1970’ summer song about holidaying in Spain, which added to the feel of the play.


Well done to Simon McBride, and all others backstage who helped create this comic play come to life.

I know I, and the audience, appreciated your efforts.