Report from the Southern Counties Drama Festival at the Barn, Oxted 24th February 2017
Our President, David Martin, is mightily pleased to report that our entry, A Little Box of Oblivion, at The Barn, Oxted last week was adjudged best of all the adult plays. Players won the adult prize and Rick Morris won the best actor award. He was most recently in the Woldingham Panto 2017 in January. Warmest congratulations to him and to the whole team:
Director – Pippa Martin – third success in her four festival entries since 2004!
Cast – Berry Butler, Rick Morris, Sarah Greenwood, Ziggi Szafranski, David Martin.
Backstage – Colin Brown, Lorna Brown, Andy Kosminski, Hannah ‘the Scream’ Taylor.
Pippa, Sarah and Ziggi gained nominations in their categories, as did the stage presentation, which includes the set.
In his verbal adjudication Mike Tilbury praised the layout of the set, the use all the actors made of the space and the ensemble work – all areas in which we did well in previous successes – and the restrained acting of the comedy moments. His few suggestions for improvement were penetrating, and far less numerous than for several other entries. He only failed to note the (intentionally) wrecked bench, and to mention Tommy, the tortoise, who is awakening from hibernation to spring greens and retirement at Dene Cottage!
Berry, David and Sarah were also participants in Pippa’s previous successes.
When it’s Dark it’s Light, When it’s Light it’s Dark
Specially written for the several hundred residents who, sadly, missed this Players’ treat! Black Comedy, the production earlier this month put on by the Woldingham Players, is probably the most difficult – yet enjoyable – experience for an audience.
Those who were not there will be surprised to learn that the play opened with the stage in complete darkness. In spite of that, the first two actors moved around with the dexterity of badgers on their nightly prowl. We assumed, were sad even, that something had fused and we were right because a few minutes later the lighting blazed and everyone could see everything. Actually, not everyone because the leading actor exclaimed ‘Oh my God, we’ve had a fuse’. With that the pair started moving around like blind people in a sandstorm. Are you with me so far? No – thought not. With proper lighting, we could for the first time see the set was a living-room with a staircase leading to a small section of mezzanine sporting a large double-bed. Of dear, some thought, we never get away from that same old subject – not sex before the watershed, surely? Then others entered bewildered and blinded. When one flicked his lighter to see, we were immediately back into darkness. The cast reverted to normal action while we fumbled to reverse our senses. When the lighter was extinguished, they became blind again but we could see. Do you follow now?
Sorry, but that’s how famous author Peter Shaffer wrote it – the reverse of normality but it certainly didn’t cramp the ability of the actors (or the skills of the back-stage crew). The apartment was artist Brindsley’s (played by Simon de Cintra who exuded enormous physical energy and activity) who was with girlfriend Carol (the ever talented and very attractive Jules Silverman) awaiting the arrival of a Millionaire to purchase his latest sculpture.
To improve the place, Brin had purloined an assortment of antiques from a wealthy neighbour who was away. The arrival of Carol’s father (David Martin perfectly encapsulating the demeanour and language of a testy Colonel) was coupled with bewildered neighbour Miss Furnival (introducing Berry Butler wonderfully aged by make-up and slowly metaphorising into a first time drunk).
When gay Harold Gorringe (a perfect character study by Tony Goddard) arrived back unexpectedly, Brin’s panic generated the most extraordinary, sweat-producing action as he crawled, crept and leapt round the stage trying to smuggle furniture back to Harold’s apartment. This unique situation enabled us to see the action in supposed darkness with hilarious consequences.
The long-awaited electrician, German art-loving immigrant Schuppanzigh (so linguistically and believably acted by Gary Pollak), was mistakenly courted as the Millionaire before he was banned to the cellar to deal with the fuse.
If the fuse was a central problem of this play so too was the unbeknown arrival of girlfriend Clea (well played by Emily Damesick) cleverly changing her voice when Brin lied she was his bed-maker and not his actual bed-mate! Black Comedy was beautifully produced by Colin Brown. Right at the last minute, he entered dressed like a German aristocrat, just as Schuppanzigh emerged from the cellar over-proclaiming, like Shakespeare, that he would now switch on the light – and we were again plunged into darkness.
With just 75 minutes and 0 intervals, 8 equally brilliant actors and 245 in the audience over 3 nights you had the perfect formula for a unique, very funny and cleverly acted evening – not Black, more Rainbow Comedy!