What a great couple of evenings we had at the Ice Factory with our two one-act plays ahead of their entry to TADDFest.
“Allergic Audience” by Joan Greening was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. Our interpretation, directed by Dave Davies, saw the part of Barbara, the long suffering volunteer front of house manager in a provincial theatre played most convincingly by Pauline Dean whilst the part of the seemingly unemployable professional actress who is yet to get a part in any production any- where was admirably portrayed by Tricia Sandford. It seems many of the audience were some- what confused or bemused by the constant references to a hessian bag, Barbara seemed to have some form of allergy to hessian and as a result was somewhat fixated on the subject. Pandora meanwhile just didn't seem to realise that her acting ability was rather one dimensional and in spite of knowing all the lines to the play that was supposed to be being staged at the theatre, plus vari- ous bits of Shakespeare thrown in for good measure, it was highly unlikely that any director would want to select her for a role! Having got off to a particularly prickly start, the two ladies eventually found some common ground with Pandora offering to help the hapless Barbara find a man. Dave Davies put in a sterling effort to bring this play to stage and the actresses both gave of their best but, in hindsight, the script was rather weak and totally overshadowed by “Nuts”.
And so to “Nuts” written and directed by Jef Pirie and with a stellar cast, this play was a winner from the off. The clever use of the television to show activity outside the hotel room immediately gave the impression of something a bit different and intriguing. Once in the room we were almost in the land of Brian Rix and the great British farce, whilst some of the foreign accents adopted by the ac- tresses would not have gone amiss in ‘ello ‘ello! This was a fast paced comic romp that had the audience virtually crying with laughter from very early on to the end. It was easy to see why, just a week later, Amy Burton Smith would be awarded Best Actress at TADDFest whilst both Lisa Fletch- er and David Warren were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively. All three gave flawless performances and screwed every last ounce of comedy out of the situation. Not to be out- done, Roger Tarrant entered right at the end as Nigel’s (David Warren) police inspector partner who was completely bemused by the fact his partner had a pair of ladies’ knickers on his head and two drunken and scantily clad women in his hotel room, what is the world coming to? This was a masterful piece of comic theatre and Jef really showed his prowess for comic writing. Well done all.
Supporting both plays from a technical perspective was our very own Daniel Saint whilst front of house and bar duties were arranged and carried out by the regular faithful, thank you all for your continued support without which the actors wouldn’t get chance to act!
If you missed these performances there will be opportunities to see Nuts at the Exmouth Drama Festival on Saturday 13th April and at the All England Drama Festival Quarter Finals on Saturday 4th May in Sherborne Dorset.