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Boundary Players - An Evening of Coarse Acting

11th to 15th May 2010.

This was the NWN review.

What a send-up

Boundary Players: An Evening of Coarse Acting, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley, from Tuesday, May 11 to Saturday, May 15

Boundary Players seemed very much at home with An Evening of Coarse Acting. Directed by Michele Middleditch and Steve Scollar, the four short plays from the master of theatrical parody Michael Green, ambitiously sent up four very different styles of theatre, embracing every cliché with great relish.

Pride at Southanger Park presented 19th century love and romance in suitably mannered Jane Austen style. Emma Buck was very impressive as the angst-ridden Cecily Chichester, torn between the attentions of suitor William Squires (Dave Stephenson) and the lusty Marcus D'Angeo (nicely played by Mick Lee), overcoming various interruptions from the house manager (Davina Harris), lighting failures, and forgotten lines that sent the action into a loop, before a rogue mobile phone spiralled the scene into chaos. Gavin Crow provided a nice cameo as the Rev Giles Henry (trying to read his lines from his Bible) and Claire Humphries was well cast as the bemused maid Gladys.

A Collier's Tuesday Tea ("with apologies to DH Lawrence") brilliantly parodied the gritty early 20th-century mining village drama, with the extended Hepplethwaite family discussing local affairs around the dinner table. When the legs came off the prop table, making all further movement impossible, the actors struggled in vain to keep going, with hilarious consequences. Special mention goes to Richard Mier as son Albert, who added a touch of pure farce as he revealed union jack underpants beneath his overcoat, and Steve Schollar as wheelchair-bound grandfather Joe, who filled any pregnant pauses with manic laughter and a wicked grin.

The third piece took us back to ancient Greece, with Oedocles King of Thebes (Dave Stephenson wowing the ladies in the audience with his short tunic and classic good looks) succumbing to the emasculating (and painful) vengeance of his spurned sister-in-law Ovary (Marguerite Luxford). A suitably eccentric and over-exuberant chorus, providing plenty of wailing and thrashing with branches, rounded off the scene.

Trapped, a typical country house whodunit, featured every am dram excess in the book, from Major Thompson (confidently played by Gavin Crow), who found himself "locked in" by the murderer, despite the fact that none of the set doors would close, to a corpse (Dave Stephenson) who started walking around, to various seriously melodramatic death scenes and a stage manager (Emma Buck), script in hand, who had to stand in for the police inspector at the last moment.

Michael Green's scripts captured every excruciating detail of badly performed drama, though his playlets were frustratingly short. Boundary Players did the work full justice, with special congratulations to producers Andy and Julie Abbott for a simple but very adaptable set, excellent costumes (particularly in the 19th-century scene), and well constructed props.