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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Croft Hall - The Unsinkable Clerk

 21st July 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Surreally good acting

The Unsinkable Clerk at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on Friday July 21

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut; sometimes you need a jolt to get you out of it. Mr Plumley is happy in his rut until one morning he oversleeps, misses his train, and gets a jolt that takes him through such a surreal world that you think the author must have overindulged in a magic mushroom omelette.

Felix Hayes plays Mr Plumley and Andrew Paton plays Jonah (yes, Mr P finds him inside a whale), and both actors also play a large range of other parts.

The play starts in the style of a '50s documentary, with Mr Plumley miming to a voice-over describing his daily routine, including his unrequited infatuation for the girl in the paper shop. After missing his train, he somehow ends up in the sea, where he meets Poseidon who tells him about a paradise island. After being swallowed by the whale, he and Jonah get blown out onto a ghost ship and finally make it to the island. Mr P decides that he wants to get back to reality and returns to his old life, emboldened to show his feelings to his girl. She rejects him, but his new-found confidence will keep him out of his rut...

A play with a message, but if you're looking for something deep, this isn't it. That doesn't matter, because it’s full of energy, invention and humour, and on a sweltering summer night the two actors gave it their all, and must have added a few litres of sweat to the imaginary sea.

The surreal humour was great - Jonah had tried to escape by making a glider, but its wings wouldn't fit through the whale’s blow-hole - but the two actors excelled when they got onto the ghost ship and had the chance to play several characters simultaneously. The way that the characters and scenes segued was brilliantly directed and executed.

The short (75 minute) play was directed by Chris George and is going to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. With a minimal set, a few props and some excellent acting, Network of Stuff gave us a most enjoyable evening.