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Silchester Players - Play On!

6th to 7th and 13th to 14th October 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

It's murder most funny at Silchester

Rick Abbott's am dram characters are all too familiar

For anyone who has had experience of amateur dramatics, Silchester Players latest production will revive many happy - and not so happy - memories.

Directed by Gill and John Coffin, Play On by Rick Abbott is a comedy in three acts about the Chestersil Players production of Murder Most Foul.

In an attempt to revive their flagging fortunes by saving on royalties, the players gladly accept a play by local author Phyllis Montague (Janice Garrard), but quickly learn to regret their decision, owing to the constant rewrites that keep appearing.

The three acts cover a rehearsal, dress rehearsal and the first night. Much of the humour evolves from the inevitable backbiting between the actors and Chris Horton, as Polly, and Alan Moorhouse, as Saul, relished their repartee almost as much as the audience.

Theirs were two strong performances, and I particularly enjoyed Saul's drunken performance on the opening night - the blank expression, as he realised that he had no idea what was happening, was a joy.

Also very much at ease was Brian Gillett as the young male lead, Billy. Another good performance came from Sarah Oliver, who played Gerry, the long suffering director, trying to balance the needs of actors, stage crew and author, while keeping up everyone's enthusiasm and making sure everyone knew their lines. Sound familiar?

A good supporting cast ensured that the frantic humour of the piece was maintained, especially in act three, where it descended into pure farce, although the pace did sag at times in the first two acts.

Ellie Cullen, as Aggie the stage manager, had great expression in her dialogue but needed to make eye contact with her fellow actors to enable her performance to develop fully.

The final word (or sound) was left - as it so often is - to the sound and lighting technician, Louise Peary, played with obvious enjoyment and style by Janet Taylor.

A very entertaining evening, which was greatly enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience.

As for the Chestersil Players - in my time I've met them all.