This review is a first for me because it revolves around an amateur-dramatic production that I saw last night. I have seen stand-up comics, and various pantomimes in my time but never had I seen an am-dram production. I’ll worry about where to put this review as the TAC Reviews…doesn’t include Plays Section later…but here I am going to review my first amateur dramatics play. So the play is a Phoenix Players comedy production by Peter Gordon. It stars (amongst others) Alex Pitcher, Raman Aggarwal and Annabel Sly with Daphne Breakspear sitting in the Director’s Chair.
Naturally as this is an amateur dramatics production I was not expecting to see grand sets, huge special effects and so on, the entire play takes place on the patio and practice putting green outside the clubhouse bar of the Seven Lakes Golf Club, well, not really obviously, you have to pretend that is where the characters are.
So what is the gist…??
Poor golfer Barry (Pitcher) is practicing his putting on Captain’s Day when club secretary and all round busy body Simon (Nicholas Gratton) arrives. He is distraught that Barry is practicing on the putting green of his beloved club when the practice flags are not in their appropriate holes and practice green is therefore not officially open for use. His stiff upper lip is severely tested by the arrival of swaggering womaniser Nick (Aggarwal) who isn’t exactly the kind of person Simon wants in his prestigious golf club. To add to Simon’s problems Nick is the Vice Captain and when the Captain is indisposed it seems Nick will be stepping into the breach to take his place.
Simon’s blood pressure is raised by the presence of Nick’s girlfriend Tiffany (Sly), his wife Laura arriving at the club after Simon swore to her he would not devote so much of his attention to his Golf Club. Clashing with the rules and regulations is Fran (Marlene Poole) who wants the club’s female members to get the same level of respect as the men.
Food being provide by a BBQ with no health and safety regulations between the first nine and back nine is Nick’s great idea as he wrestles control of the club’s Captain’s Day from Simon.
The play is separated into four acts, the first being Saturday Morning of Captain’s Day, the second Mid-day, the third Mid-Afternoon and finally Early Evening.
The production began with a bloke telling us (the assembled audience) that the lady who was to play Laura had broken several bones in her foot so had been replaced and unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the replacement lady. Still the show must go on and all that so what did I think of my first experience of amateur dramatics??
Honestly I enjoyed it…allow me to explain why.
For those of you that are unaware actors are not confined to people who get paid a ridiculous sum of money to phone in a performance or in the vain hope of becoming stars…some act for the sheer enjoyment of acting. Are these people ever going to make it big in Hollywood or win an Oscar, probably not, but then that is not the point they do it for the pleasure of putting on a show for audiences like me. They have regular jobs and regular lives…it is only by night that they do a Batman and don an outfit to portray an alter-ego character.
I saw the final night after the cast had performed the show on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday already and it was in the first Act that the cast were clearly evaluating the audience as much as we were watching them. It was obvious that there were some nerves amongst the cast, however, after the first Act these nerves seemed to dissipate with the cast all becoming more comfortable in the later Acts.
By the way, for those of you who don’t know Captain’s Day is a day organised by the Club Captain in which he organises an open day for the Club’s Members. Various events are organised, prizes given and speeches made for the person who plays the best that day so a pretty big event in a Golf Club’s Calendar
The play is a comedy so naturally it needed to be funny, yes some of the jokes were telegraphed so hard that they couldn’t have been more obvious if someone had held up a card that said “Joke Incoming” but there were so many that whilst some of them fell a little flat most found their mark. Perhaps the reason that the cast became more comfortable was because they were beginning to get a feel of which jokes we were going to laugh at and which ones we probably wouldn’t, so pauses were required when they anticipated a laugh but the conversation needed to continue uninterrupted when the audience didn’t chuckle.
The character of Simon was a particular highlight…I am not a golfer by any stretch of the imagination but there are people my skin sack knows that are MASSIVE fans of the game. Hell one of them dragged me to a practice day at the Masters in Augusta USA once so we could stand ten feet from Tiger Woods and bask in his magnificence. Whilst the guy I was with was in awe, I was tired, cold and hungry because the sun hadn’t gotten up yet, and we had neglected breakfast. Anyway, the point is that everyone knows a person like Simon, it doesn’t matter if it is rigidly sticking to the rules of a game, or a workplace, you will always meet these cheerful busy bodies that you just want to slap. Nicholas Gratton was a joy to watch, his energy never faltered and from the moment he set foot on the stage he was the perfect embodiment of the man who craves respect from those around him without realising that he is about as likable as a divot on a green (yes that was a golf pun)
As for the rest of the cast they all worked hard and whilst there were times that they all sounded like people reading from a script they have memorised, those moments were pretty fleeting.
In his first am-dram play Raman Aggarwal was clearly having fun playing Nick, the constant thorn in Simon’s side, and obviously relished swaggering around the stage mispronouncing words that Nick obviously thought makes him sound intelligent. His carefree attitude perfectly countered the tightly wound Simon and the two bounced off each other well with Alex Pitcher’s portrayal as the put upon Barry being the source of some of the play’s more memorable dialogue moments.
The lady that played Laura came onto the stage reading a book and it took me a moment to realise that she was reading the play’s script book, now whilst I have to say that I did find that a tad distracting, without someone stepping up and taking on the character of Laura the play would have been cancelled so fair play to her for doing as well as she did. The other two female cast members were entertaining with Sly giving Tiffany a likeable idiocy and Poole’s Fran using Captain’s Day to get one up on Simon at every available opportunity.
The acting was a little wooden at times but then you can say the same about Keanu Reeves in Point Break so no-one is perfect.
Overall the play was funny, the cast were clearly putting in tremendous amounts of effort and it was a comedy that left me with a smile on my face. I will be keeping one of my eyes on this amateur dramatics group because I doubt that this will be the last time that I see one of their productions. The next show is a drama called Prescription for Murder by Norman Robbins, the cast can do comedy but can they also do drama?? Time will tell, as for Par For The Course it is getting a Thumbs Up, it is well worth a watch which is a bit of a shame considering last night was the final night of the show…
7/10 – A comedy that was funny with a cast that were clearly putting everything they had into their characters…what more could you want?? My advice: watch this space because I am going to be eagerly anticipating the next production by the Phoenix Players