TheatreLambousa at the Barons’ Theatre
To begin the 2009 season TheatreLambousa has surprised us, their old and new fans, with two comedies from the finest, full of black humour and wit. The house was full as expected. A glass of wine was served at the entrance to welcome the guests, some of them I knew had come from far.
In the centre of the open stage a huge brown coffin (a loan by the British Cemetery Committee) with the lid leaning against the wall waiting to be nailed on. That was the scenery for the first comedy play “The Last Respects” by Colin Calvert.
Reginald Deadlock, the undertaker of the funeral parlour played by Brian Thomas, sitting relaxed at a coffee table next to the coffin drinking beer and smoking a cigarette, deep in thoughts. Is he perhaps rehearsing his speech to the mourners to come? And why is there a bottle of champagne and four glasses on the table? He suddenly jumps up and removes the traces of his unduly behavior because he hears somebody approach. There enter three women to mourn the deceased Mr Henry Throgmorton, veritable pillar of society. His obviously not very concerned widow, played by Val Wilce and his two…mistresses as we soon were to find out, played by Sabena Coulter and Karen Aldred using good body language to show their awkwardness opposite the legal widow. They had been summoned by the deceased to get together around his coffin for a farewell party. Mr Deadlock welcomes them reciting philosophical ideas of the irony of death in context with eternity. But, as all three say their goodbyes to their “big boy” with big tears in their eyes and a glass of champagne in their hands, they start fighting across the coffin who of them was his most and only loved one. The party is over, the women take their leave. Mr Deadlock goes ahead to do the concluding steps and we think that that was it, when we are all shaken and taken by surprise by a sudden movement from inside the coffin. The corpse has come alive! Under a thick layer of white powder we recognize, all screaming out loud with surprise, funny face Grahame Ash playing the deceased. The scoundrel has been cheating himself out of his present life and will start a new one with the help of insurance money and Mr. Deadlock who gets well paid for his part. What a party in great style. Well played by all of them, multitalented Val Wilce known to us from the murder mysteries and LambousaChorus musicals and Sabena Coulter as Inspector Holmes, here with a newly discovered successful comical side, and the two newcomers to the Theatre Lambousa team Karen Aldred and Brian Thomas who played their parts like old hands. Two small slips of text were overcome professionally with the prompt help of the prompter, hardly realized by the audience.
The second comedy play of the evening “Hurrah for Mrs Hickson” after the break was written by Roy Plumley, witty and full of sarcasm about the 4,469th broadcasting episode (running over 18 years) of “The Mrs Hickson Story”, regarded as a national institution. The playwright is obviously anti radio plays, and he overdraws its characteristics to the extreme, by showing the “voices” in a read through for the next performance, as persons who have grown old with their roles. A short play which lives from the mimicry of the actors, ie actresses. And this requirement was fulfilled to the best by the five ladies acting their parts so naturally that I believed to be in a true broadcasting studio equipped with two big studio microphones. Joanna, the sound effects lady, played by Adele Thomas, who had not much to say but oh how funny her erratic and absent-minded comical scenes. Sabena Coulter again, as the producer, very producer-like, Chrys Ismail as Ethel Bunn, blind as a bat which makes her bring out funny interpretations of her text, Anita Woods known to us by other TheatreLambousa undertakings, being a true lady, and Karen Aldred again, as Janet, the replacement for a sick actress who asks embarrassing questions about the play and the incredibility of the text. This young woman has a natural theatre face. And finally our incredible Val Wilce as Mrs Hickson, alias her voice and copy which she has become over the years, the caricature of a femme fatale. Great performance.
Director of both plays was Valerie Joyner who came to North Cyprus six years ago and her experience in directing and acting which she did for many years in England, is a welcome contribution to our theatre scene on the island. The team doing the jobs just as important for the success of a play were Lighting: Hal Crompton; Stage manager: Cath Crompton; Prompts: Anita Woods and Grahame Ash; Front of House manager: Andrew Cowley; Front of House team: Sue Cowley, Jane Griffiths, David Hillier, Ian Long; Anthony McCartney and John Mockridge.
Francine Ash who sat next to me during the two plays was happy and proud of just another success of TheatreLambousa and I believe that we may expect regular and good entertainment in the future. As director of ChorusLambousa she is right in the middle of rehearsals for her next production of “Rhythm of Life” on April 30 and May 1 and 2, 2009, as usual at the Barons’Theatre.
Copyright Heidi Trautmann