By Heidi Trautmann
When you drive home after a show with a smile on your face, you conclude it must have been a good show, but when you wake up the next morning roaring with laughter, then it becomes obvious that it was an excellent show. I bet the audience of all four performances thought likewise. “All performances are sold out and a far cry from our very first performance in spring 2007 when 70 seats were sold, as you may remember, since you have been following our development so closely,” said Grahame Ash. Yes, I do remember. For Grahame Ash and theatre friends setting up a new, off the cuff theatre group with the support of Chateau Lambousa owners John Aziz and Valerie Kent and later son Gordon, was indeed a huge feat, aided by the enthusiasm of the then small group of actors. The main goal for TheatreLambousa was light entertainment – a move away from KADS’ main interest in serious drama – first with mystery crimes and then comedy. Grahame Ash even wrote three mystery plays himself with great success and adapted them to local events which often lent a degree of hilarity to the occasion.
A great crew developed under the guidance of directors such as Jan Marsh and Val Joyner. The present play ‘Allo ‘Allo by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft had been simmering in the mind of Jan Marsh since 2007 when she realized a radio play on BRT with the very helpful support of programme manager Can Gazi. As everybody had thoroughly enjoyed the script, Jan Marsh approached Theatre Lambousa Management, Grahame Ash, to find out whether a stage play could be done at the Barons’ Theatre. Grahame Ash, the decision maker for TheatreLambousa, offered a first slot in 2008. However, male actors were hard to find, so he began a recruitment drive of new talent, especially men – I remember it well as I wrote some articles in its support. This proved quite successful, as the training programme required the newcomers to speak only a few lines in the beginning, to introduce them gently to working on stage and thus build up their confidence.
Finally, the TheatreLambousa Management managed to invite Jan Marsh for a new slot in spring 2010 and rehearsals began in January. It was hard work for everyone involved but when I see the outcome, I can only congratulate them. My compliments go to the director Jan Marsh and the cast of this stage play for their fine acting, their professionalism and obvious joy in the undertaking; to the production team whose first concern is the success of the production, a proof of professional teamwork. I sincerely hope that this fine teamwork remains an example among the theatre groups; compromise is the basis of a good marriage!
When I entered the house this time, I registered a great change to the stage, it had grown in size and the set design was cleverly done; it enabled a quick change of scenes by concentrating the lighting onto the new field of action. I learnt that Mark Lake had designed it, and with a crowd of helpers, had constructed the set. What an improvement! (Mark Lane will be, together with Francine Ash, co-producing the next ChorusLambousa performance “Only a Rose”). Mention should also be made of the generous financial support provided by Steve Dickinson Insurance Services who are sponsoring the cost of even more lighting improvements to the Barons' Theatre.
The show ‘Allo‘Allo! first came to popularity as a Television series in the UK starting in 1982 and it ran for about 10 years. It transferred to London’s West End in 1987. It is one of the best loved comedies in Britain and apparently was well received abroad too.
The comedy is centred on a cafe in occupied France during the Second World War. It ridicules all nationalities involved in the war, making a great play on the national stereotypes. And I must say, the ridiculing was well done by the members of the cast, by the actors I have seen in former plays, giving their absolute best, and by newcomers who have been infected by the theatre bug. I was absolutely amazed by the progress some of them had made; it was very good acting, well above amateur standards. Also, the actors felt at home on stage and we could all feel it. I don’t want to leave the stage choreography unmentioned; which was well done and was absolutely natural.
On the evening of the first performance I was told that Diana Peek, one of the leading parts, had an unfortunate accident which broke her leg – somebody must have wished her this theatre slogan once too often – so for the rest of the performances, Anita Woods had to take over her part and I take my hat off to her at how well she managed. She had to read her text from the script but her acting was so good that I thought it belonged to her role.
I need not list the acting qualities of each single actor because they were all good and supported each other. Also worthy of mention is the fine mimicry of all the cast, especially in the situations when there were no lines to be recited.
Matt Turner, Caroline Attwood, Diana Peek/Anita Woods, Michelle Duerden, Adele Thomas, Alan Peek, Des Roberts, Brian Coe, Ian Long, Steve Sydenham, Mike Sokell, Val Wilce, Brian Thomas, Don Attwood and Stephen Everett, Beverley Westbrook, Roger Bradley.
Director: Jan Marsh
Producers: Jan Marsh and Grahame Ash
Stage Manager: Cath Crompton
Stage Crew: Anita Woods, Anthony MacCartney, Laurie Dignan, Karen Downs,
Dressers: Lisa Devlin, Sue Cowley
Props/Furniture: Cath Crompton, Lisa Devlin, Gillian Clark & members of the Cast
Lighting and Sound: Hal Crompton
Set Designer: Mark Lake
Set Artist: Ann Tattam
Set Construction and Painters: Brian Wallace, Mark Lake, Des Roberts, Stephen Everett, Roger Bradley, Bob Monaghan
Prompt: Linda Coe
Make Up: Tania Edgar
Costumes: Leisa Devlin, Des Roberts, Trish Hudson, Carol Dovey and members of the Cast
Hair: Sue Sawyer
Front of the House: Andrew Cowley, Sue Cowley, Grahame Ash, Lisa Devlin, Joe Devlin, John Mockridge, Jane Griffiths, Edwina Clayton.