Association of Community Theatre
Show Reviews 2017
YOU SAY TOMATOES
by Bernard Slade
Burnley Garrick Club
Directed by Martin Chadwick
Bernard Slade's play, Same Time Next Year is probably the most well-known for the theatre. This play, You Say Tomatoes, from the creator of some of television's best loved series such as The Partridge Family and Bewitched, though not so well known, is certainly worth doing. Very briefly the play highlights the differences between English and American attitudes to a whole range of subjects.
Libby, a somewhat past-her-prime TV producer is trying to convince Giles, a somewhat past-his-prime novelist, to give her the rights to televise some of his books. The major problem is that Libby, a New Yorker, dislikes the British. As she says, "When I visit England I set my watch back 300 years."
Giles is British through and through, zealously guards his privacy and finds Americans loathsome. As he says to Libby, "I loathe [American's] worship of the almighty dollar. I hate what you've done to the English language. I am deeply offended by your excesses, your waste and careless pollution of the atmosphere." Despite these differences in attitude, the two are encouraged to get along by their friends, Fred and Daisy. Daisy is Libby's assistant and greatest admirer. Fred is Giles's long-time friend and mentor but who loves all things American, especially TV.
Before the play started there was an announcement to say that, owing to recent personal problems, the actress playing the role of Libby would be using the book.
Whatever the problems were, it was very obvious that the actress playing the role of Libby, Carole Bardsly, had very little need of the book as her characterisation was spot on. From her American accent to the constant flashing smile whenever the occasion needed it, Carole became Libby. This was a superb performance and one of which she should be very proud, all the more so under the circumstances. It is a testament to her playing that the book became merely a prop and was in no intrusive. Although it must have added a certain difficulty to her actions on stage, such as taking off her coat, or when she was undertaking aerobics, in no way did it hinder her movements. Congratulations, Carole, on a superb job, well done.
Playing opposite Carole was David Kendrick as Giles. To use a cliché, what a tour-de-force performance this was. His interpretation of an ultra-private, bookish gentleman was finely nuanced with a crescendo and diminuendo in speech at appropriate junctures creating dialogue that was riveting. The unease he felt at allowing his novels to be turned into television plays was very real.
Supporting roles were played by David Pilkington as Fred Craddock, long term friend of Giles and Katy Taylor as Daisy Holiday, secretary and confidante of Libby.
Fred is described as a Londoner, eminently blessed with a natural wit and cheerful attitude, his spry movements were those of a man much younger than his 70 years. This role suited David to a 'T' as he bustled around, doing the shopping, seeing that Giles was looked after and, with his light-hearted attitude to life in general, created a loveable character.
Daisy Holiday, a North Carolina girl with an appealing attitude towards life, was played very confidently by Katy Taylor, a young actress who is expanding her repertoire on stage with roles such as this. She is a leading player of the future I have no doubt. As the character of Daisy, her wide-eyed optimism was always liable to cause people to under-estimate her intelligence,
What really came across in this presentation of You Say Tomatoes was the obvious bond between all of the players, supporting each other so that they all kept the story nicely bubbling along.
By modern standards, It is a very long play, running as it does for two and half hours. Inevitably there were some longueurs but that was the fault of the script and not the performers.
Thanks to skilled direction by Martin Chadwick, this was a beautifully played ensemble piece which will have pleased the audience, and it was a production of which all those involved can be very proud.