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Tonight at 7.45
Two One Act Comedies
The TMWA Clubhouse, Sanderstead, South Croydon
19th to 21st October 2011
The Queen Must Dieby David Farr.   Directed by Joe Pepper
Fumed Oakby Noel Coward.   Directed by Ian Brown

Please use THIS LINK to view the photographs
 

One of the reasons that the Mitre Players are the leading amdram society in the region is that they have several venues from which to choose to put on their shows. There is the magnificent Concert Hall at Trinity School (the Mitre Players is part of the Old Boys’ Association of Trinity) there is the equally splendid Mitre Theatre (also at Trinity) and then there is the TMWA Clubhouse in Sanderstead.

 

The clubhouse lends itself brilliantly to a production like this. Intimate? Oh yes; at times the actors were only a couple of feet from the audience. This production was well supported and with good reason.

 

The show was in two parts; firstly we were given a little known play, The Queen Must Die by David Farr, directed by first timer Joe Pepper, already a Mitre veteran at 19. He has been fronting a campaign to promote junior talent at the Mitres, and The Queen Must Die was an excellent vehicle to do just that.

 

Before anyone is too shocked……not the real Queen!

 

The Queen in the production is in fact a statue of HM, due to feature in a Diamond Jubilee parade; the statue of the Queen was remarkable, all the more so for having been created from scratch in under 24 hours by Jill (Wiggy) Wilson, taking centre left stage on a superb set by Paul Bowles.

 

The play begins with a group of young ladies dressed in Union Jack dresses – to their horror and disgust – who are expected to dance on the float carrying the statue of the Queen.  Led by Shannon (Anna Frost) they decide that the only way to get out of this farrago of fashion is to sabotage the statue. To do this they must get into Mrs. Chivers’ living room...where a handsome and naïve babysitter is unsuspectingly babysitting…

 

Meanwhile a young and idealistic Republican movement is planning a similar raid for similar reasons on the same statue in the same room in the same house. What follows is high farce, which is not easy to play. It is to the immense credit of the cast that laughs followed a-plenty – at least on the evening that this reviewer was there – and the audience departed to the bar at the interval very satisfied.

 

The cast was excellent.

 

Anna Frost as leader Shannon captured perfectly the right degree of bossiness and vulnerability which the part demanded; Harry Petty as the leader of the Republicans showed a very good grasp of the role, showing us idealism, anger, a teenage struggle with how to lead and a teenage struggle with how to resist the lovely Shannon…Harriet Smith as Lisa  was the team player when the plot was hatched to get to the statue; then vampish and seductive with Shaun the babysitter, played by Simon Long, a bit of  Mitre find. He captured the angst of Shaun, with his confusion and family problems and then fearing being executed – all in one scene – very well indeed.

 

Chris Law drew the short straw – playing the straight man. At this he was very good indeed – delivering dead pan lines in a dead pan way that made the audience love him.

 

Sandra was played by Chloe Guyon-Pelfrane; Chloe’s facial expressiveness and ability to concentrate makes her one to watch.

 

Mad Mike - aka Jack Alexander. This man has a comic talent which he may well not know about. His facial expression, his timing, use of eyes and mouth is superb. If it is natural, do not over coach this man- he has a natural comedy talent, which is a rare gift.

 

And, as has happened so often, the sure hand of Di Jones as steady hand at the helm behind the scenes.

 

Noel Coward is a bit of a Marmite playwright; you like him or you don’t. Shakespeare has the same effect.

 

Fumed Oak was an utter delight.

 

Thirty minutes long – not very long – but what was crammed into those 30 minutes was extraordinary. Put upon husband Henry Gow (Warwick Jones) sits at the breakfast table listening in detached silence as his wife (Julia Gibbs) adenoidal daughter (Megan Harries-Rees) and Grandma (Krissi Perry) bang on and on ….until Henry has had enough and releases his bombshell .. and to find out what that is you will have to see the play!

 

The cast was magnificent. Only Craig Revell-Horwood would fault them. Warwick Jones in command and as confident as always, completely on top of his character; Julia Gibbs superb as wife Dorrie; not only word perfect but gesture perfect, facial expression perfect and vocal nuance perfect. Krissi Perry as Grandmother – great stuff and the inclusion of a couple of touches from Catherine Tate’s Grandma were inspired. Megan Harries-Rees has been with the Mitres since she was a baby; this was probably her best ever performance. She captured Elsie perfectly and that is perfectly; well done.

 

As always; those who missed it - bad luck.

 

The Mitres are on form and look out for the next show.