Association of Community Theatre

Show Reviews November 2017


by Derek Benfield

Directed by Mark Storton

Burnley Garrick


When impressionable Phil announces to his good friend George that he has fallen for a girl on the top of a 49 bus, George is not surprised: such affairs have happened and blown over many times before. But he is surprised when he learns that Phil intends to divorce his wife Maggie and go to live with his new girlfriend in the house next door! However, friends being friends, the obliging George is persuaded to lend a helping hand, thus setting in motion the most frenetic confusion of mistaken identities, plotting and counterplotting that ever errupted on a quiet summer’s day in the suburbs.


This was this setting for the latest offering from Burnley Garrick.


If I have a criticism of the play it is that the exposition is far too long and repetetive.  This is a criticism of the writing, not of the players here, who coped extremely well with the dialogue which was well understood and delivered at almost breakneck speed.  Because of extremely good articulation and projection, not a word was lost.  Congratulations to an extremely talented, well-balanced cast for providing a very well received play.


As with any play, it is the audience's reaction to it that determines its success.  The excellent first night audience loved it and the applause at final curtain was long and enthusiastic.


For this production we were presented with an excellently designed set.  US C we could see, through open French windows, the patio leading to the garden.  The clever use of trellis work in front of a beautifully designed backcloth created a very realistic, almost 3-D scene. DSL was the door to the kitchen whilst CSR was the hallway leading to the ever-open front door.  Very slight niggle here: the kitchen was not lit so that any character going into the room looked as though he or she were entering a dark space.  On the walls were various paintings which were examples of the work done by the leading female character who was an artist, obviously trying out different styles. From a portrait of her husband, to a London scene and on to a still life, and an abstract.  We were also treated to a sketch prepared at a life drawing class.

A two seater leather settee, a leather Chesterfield armchair and an office chair, plus various small tables, together with a well stocked drinks cabinet, provided the furnishing for this London dwelling at No 4.  It appears, from the dialogue that No 6 next door has no furniture aand this  entailed much moving of the obviously, very heavy two seater settee


The artist in question was Maggie, played by Hazel Mrozek, who was married to Phil, played by Michael Whewell. It was Maggie who was the axle in this ever revolving wheel of Phil's girlfriends. Phil's best friend, George, played by Giles Williams, was ever present at No 4.  The friendship of Phil and George very well played.  Phil is the hopeless romantic, completely amoral and ready to fall in love at the first sight of a pretty girl on top of a No 49 bus.  After just one meeting he proposes marriage to the girl and is ready to divorce his wife.  Maggie is fully aware of his shenannigans, but plays along just to see how deep a hole he can dig for himelf before he finally comes to his senses.  It is George who is put in the unenviable position of having to explain to Maggie exactly what her husband is up to, but balks at having to explain that Phil's new girlfriend Julie, played by Rachel Bailey, is going to move in next door at No 6 and that Phil is going to divorce Maggie to marry Julie.  As Phil says, “I'll still come round if there's a leak or a gas repair that needs doing.”  Rachel is improving as an actress with every role she undertakes and is going to be very much in demand.  Her stage presence, delivery and timing are excellent.


Michael Whewell, playing, Phil was  the lothario we imagined, and his portrayal of a man playing one person off against another was finely observed.


Giles Williams, playing George, was superb.  His timing and physical exertions were a joy to behold.  Never over-played, Giles was, by turns, a manipulator and  and innocent bystander.  It was around George that things started to revolve, and then unravel as he was suggested as boyfriend to  Phil's girlfriend.  Things  became even more complicated when Greta, played by Shannon Grogan, came through the front door “because it was open”. She too was one of Phil's conquests but somehow, he had forgotten all about her. Her gradual emptying of the vodka bottle was finely tuned.  Well done.


Then things really started to get complicated when Mr. Brassett entered.  Keith Pounder, for far too  long has been absent from the stage, played this newly promoted fireman in his new inspector's uniform, ever so slightly too big for him, but as he had only been in the job for a week, he was very proud of it.  With an ever-so-slightly hint of camp, he turned out to be Julie's father although at first was mistaken for a boyfriend, (well, Julie's boyfriend was meant to be older!).  Keith lifted the play to another level.

With no-one apparently knowing who was with whom, things were further complicated with the arrival of Alan, played by Liam Husband.  Was it Maggie he had met at a party, or was it Greta?


So in this heady mix were seven people, all of whom had been invited to stay for dinner.

All this was proving just a little overwhelming for Mrs Puffet, the daily help, played by Kathleen Riley.  Having had her three-wheeler pranged from behind , and being stuck at this household, she found herself being cajoled into preparing dinner for the assembled guests.  Her obvious bewilderment at the various goings-on was finely observed.


As with all farcical comedies, misunderstandings abound but eventually things do sort themselves out.


The ending to the play was superb, completely unexpected, too, and extremely well played by Hazel and Michael.


This was a presentation that will be enjoyed by the Garrick audiences.  Mark Storton had done a fine job with the play and with his cast brought out the very best in all of them.  Props, costumes and set dressing were excellent and overall, the Garrick first night audience showed its enthusiasm by prolonged applause at the end of the play.