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Silchester Players - Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue, S'il Vous Plait

18th, 19th, 25th and 26th October 2002.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Chaos in saucy Silchester

'CHASE ME UP FARNDALE AVENUE, S'IL VOUS PLAIT', performed by the Silchester Players, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, October 18, Saturday, October 19, Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26

There's nothing like a good French farce; and 'Chase me up Farndale Avenue, s'il vous plait' is, altogether now, nothing like a good French farce.

In the fourth of David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr's cycle of plays, the formidable members of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society ate presenting a 'comedy très saucy' in honour of their visitors from France. Nothing goes according to plan and the performance deteriorates into hilarious chaos, with every performer playing two or three roles (which rapidly become confused), and the terrified wardrobe mistress standing in at the last moment, script in hand. But, with unshakeable resolve, the Guild members battle on to the bitter end.

Good farce is hard to do; deliberately bad 'farce within farce' is harder still. But Silchester Players provided a terrific evening's entertainment, and brilliantly captured the spirit of the play. Caroline Norton was very well cast as the commanding and totally unflappable Mrs Reece. Paula Luke provided some hilarious moments as the moody Thelma, including an impromptu musical interlude with washboard and spoons. Ian Hartwell was excellent as the hapless stage-manager and reluctant performer Gordon; and Hayley Fitton, the youngest addition to the group, showed tremendous promise as Felicity, who throws herself enthusiastically into her roles despite directorial disapproval and malfunctioning props. Janet Taylor was a real joy as Minnie, the costume assistant dragged on stage at the last moment, who fumbles her way through her lines while continuing to sew on buttons and entangle herself and everyone else in balls of wool. Finally, Jill Hutchins and Brian Gillett, as Miss Farndale and her irascible assistant Norman, made a brief but effective appearance in character to conduct the raffle during the interval.

A striking aspect of Kevin Belcher's production was the care taken to create the right atmosphere front of house, with the auditorium carefully prepared with French decorations, background music, and tasty nibbles for the audience. It was, though, a very small audience, and this group never seem to attract the numbers they deserve. The play is on again next weekend so, if you live nearby, pop along for a great evening out.