Potential for Laughs Realised
Old Rep. Birmingham
Efficiency was treading the boards, too. Michael
Nile came lugubriously but alertly to his duties as Chandler Tate, director of
the epic that was unfolding before our eyes, and Leigh McCarroll scored as
Adam, nephew of the owner of the TV station and would-be author of his own
This was centred around Jacie Triplethree,
the innocent and irresistible actoid with an unpredictable tendency to shriek
without warning, to speak intermittently at a rate of knots and to switch
accents between Brummie, Yorkshire and the Deep South without pausing for
Jacie is delightful. In her bleaker moments, she
manages to tug the heartstrings. She is played by Anna Downes, who has
fashioned for her a piping voice, a walk of tiny steps and a wide-eyed
matter-of-factness in the face of life's little problems. One of these
inconveniences is that she needs to be emptied every so often.
She is very amusing when she performs Here Comes
the Hot-Stepper, and hilarity peaks again in the restaurant scene which finds
her anxiety about being emptied being met by Mr McCarroll by dint of diving under
the table and following her instructions to turn something one way or the
other, while fellow-diners look on with ill-concealed interest, compounded when
he eventually emerges with a half-filled plastic container.
CUSTARD PIE MOMENT
Interestingly, the actoid innocence is set in a
play in which Ayckbourn abandons his customary high standards of language a
couple of times. This is another surprise in an evening that is not exactly
short of them. There is even a good old-fashioned custard pie moment, superbly
executed by everybody's favourite actoid and received nobly and with the
requisite consternation by Patricia Hands in the guise of Carla Pepperbloom,
regional TV director.
Gemma Harris and Samantha Broome are a good
pairing as the television show's backroom girls, Leon Salter is Marmion, who
acts as the larynx of Lester Trainsmith (Tony Nock), the station owner who
eventually finds his voice to deliver a substantial speech from his wheelchair.
There are vigorous cameos from Tracey Bolt, as a
prostitute, and Iain Neville, as the man who discovers an actoid in the seedy
hotel which he regards as his own for his girls' purposes. There are lively
lines: "What do you know about anything at all? You're an accountant." There is
laughter galore, particularly in the second act. There is an abundance of
honest endeavour. It's fun. To 29.5.10.