Paul Johnson | 07 Apr 2012 19:17pm
FlatSpin is one of the Ayckbourn ‘Damsels in Distress’ trilogy, charting the trials and tribulations of various female characters, all set in plush Docklands apartments. Billed by some as the ‘weakest’ of the three, this second instalment actually has lots going for it. There are some great one-liners and the added thriller element means it is not a run of the mill comedy. But enough about Ayckbourn’s writing. What about this production? First of all, congratulations to Jeremy Walls for a great first directorial effort. It must be a daunting task choosing and directing your first production, especially when your cast is made up of some seasoned performers. Having recently seen another of the trilogy, this performance goes to show what a good understanding of the play can result in. Although deemed inferior, this is the production of an Ayckbourn piece that I have enjoyed most recently (professional included). The ‘open set’ started peoples’ imaginations going. The recurrent features of the trilogy sets made you wonder what might happen at the bar? Who might appear through the French doors? Who would live in a house like this… The furnishings were suitably plush for such an abode and overall the visual aesthetics were pleasing. My only gripe was with the clothes that emanated from ‘Joanna’s’ wardrobe. Supposedly meant for ‘Tracy’ (of imposing stature, the tall Phillipa Rooke), the unfortunate Rosie (a slight Cynthia Hearing) ended up wearing them but they did not look too out of place. I would have liked them to swamp her and look ridiculous. But moan over and onto all the good bits. The main roles were cast appropriately. ‘Rosie’ and ‘Sam’ (Paul Matthews) were likeable characters, always a good thing when the protagonists need the audience’s sympathy; and were well acted. On the whole, I liked the incidental characters. The pick’n’mix of Police characters were as different as they were funny and each actor highlighted the idiosyncrasies of that role. The indestructible (ahem) ‘Tommy’ (David Pascoe at his best), a snide ‘Maurice’ (Patrick Neylan) and that unforgettable ‘Tracy’. Their inclusion is necessary to help the piece move along and they provided much of the laughter the play relies on. The only part that I would question was the chase scene between ‘Rosie’ and ‘Edna’ (Anne Allocca). I know the Village Hall is quite a small acting area, but this needs to be taken into account when planning such scenes. I felt the timing could have been better as I’m afraid it just did not quite work for me. Overall a good night out though and well deserving of the full houses it had. The Chelsfield Players choose some interesting pieces and hopefully we might see the society take part in one of the Guild Festivals open to them in the future. They wake up the small village and definitely deserve a larger audience and recognition for what they can achieve.
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- : 31/03/2012