According To Rumour
Reprinted from Dorchester News February 2017
This latest DADS production was full of surprises. In the build up to Christmas most theatrical productions rely on ever-more complex technical effects and outrageous story-lines to entertain audiences. In fact, DADS has itself presented traditional pantomimes for the past two years, but this time they took a different approach. The first surprise was – there were no production surprises. No stunning set changes, exotic costumes, special effects, pyrotechnics or musical numbers, just a conventional play with a small cast on an open stage with very few props.
This puts the players firmly in the spotlight and acting skills are clearly apparent. It’s a surprising route for an amateur company, but DADS pulled it off triumphantly. Casting was all-important and Director, Rachel Winslet-Morris, got it spot-on. There were no weak links and the action was fast and slick, everyone delivering excellent performances with seemingly effortless authority.
The play was billed as a comedy by Robert Scott, a playwright I hadn’t previously heard of, but elements of it were closer to the hallowed traditions of farce. There was a central storyline of £50,000 in cash, the proceeds of a robbery, being hidden in a refrigerator and the efforts of an assortment of characters to make off with it. Needless to say, things were not that simple. The central character, Carter, expertly played by Mark Wilkin, sleeping on his sofa was woken by a telephone call letting him know that formidable family members were on their way to see him. Problem was he’d hosted a drunken party the night before, couldn’t remember much about it and the place was trashed. Worse was to follow. Rushing to clean-up the place he was horrified to find his fridge full of money he couldn’t explain along with a naked lady in his bedroom. Trying to detail the events that followed is not possible in a short review, but it was a hugely enjoyable sequence of arrivals, misunderstandings, intrigues, double-crossings and all the usual twists and turns we expect from a comedy farce like this.
The cast included many well-known DADS actors including Rosemary Mills as the unclothed blonde (wearing a dressing gown on-stage), the ever-excellent and entertaining Mark Williams as a ‘bent’ policeman, Louise Aukland doing a great job of looking surprised, confused and outraged, Ann Winslet, taking time off from directing other DADS productions to showcase her undoubted talents on-stage and a newcomer to DADS, Andrew Champion, who last trod the boards 30 years ago, but came back with a bang as Carter’s friend and foil for the outrageous goings-on. Identical twins, Maxine and Martine, family helpers from a lesser-known part of Europe, both delightfully played by Christine Jones, squeezed every ounce of comedy from their female ‘Manuel’ appearances, but the real surprise of the night came from Dorchester News’ editor-in-chief, Ian Brace, as a wonderfully nerdish postman with no social skills or redeeming features. This is the joy of live theatre in Dorchester.
Bundle this together, inspirationally directed by Rachel, supported by DADS usual band of dedicated back-stage experts, and the result was an evening of hilarious fun and high spirits.
Did this come as a surprise? Of course, it didn’t. DADS never fails to put on a great show and long may it continue to do so.