There are many plays about ill-fated am-dram productions - audiences love them and so do actors. Loddon Players’ production of Rick Abbot’s Play On! is the funniest of this genre I have seen (and that includes the professional production of The Play That Goes Wrong, currently on in the West End).
It’s a difficult play to do well. You need good actors, good pace and lots of rehearsal to get a top rate production, and Loddon Players provided it all.
The Noddol Players (geddit?) were in the village hall rehearsing Murder Most Foul, the first play by local writer Phyllis Montague. Act One took place at a rehearsal four days before the performance. All was not going well, and got a lot worse when the author turned up with a raft of changes. Act Two shifted to the dress rehearsal, and Act Three was the opening night.
The director Gerry Dunbar was played by Pete Francis. This was a well measured performance, with the right level of authority and patience, occasionally exploding with frustration. Mark Adams was the camp stage manager Algie, struggling to overcome his incompetence, and Joy Newman was the no-nonsense sound-and-lighting person Louise.
Steve Schollar was Henry, playing Lord Dudley as a gruff old cove, with Alice Grundy as his wife Polly (lovely facial expressions). Carolyn Miles, as Violet, had Matt Stanley and Pete Cook playing her suitors in Murder Most Foul – all three were very funny, especially in Act Three. Emily Browne was the maid, and Maggie Browne played the author, splendidly over-dramatic.
The standard of the acting was very high and there were no weak links. My only criticism is that some of the lines were hard to hear, particularly those delivered offstage.
The director Nick Robinson should be congratulated for a top quality, hilariously funny production. By resisting the temptation for the actors to ham it up too much, we got some strong, well nuanced characterisation. Well done!