A farce is always a popular choice for a local amateur production and Cooney and Chapman farces are among the best.
Clitheroe Parish Operatic and Dramatic Society chose one of the best known of these “Move over, Mrs Markham” for their performances at St Mary’s Centre from October 19th to 22nd.
The key elements of farce are pace and timing and I’m glad to say that these were really well covered in this production. Director, Wendy Watson, made sure that the pace was well-maintained throughout and the timing of the entrances and exits was perfection. The actors, without exception, gave performances that were strong in characterisation and contributed to the building momentum of the narrative.
Brian and Lesley Haworth played the couple, Philip and Joanna Markham, whose flat became the intended “love nest” for the amorous exploits of various friends and acquaintances. Their performances, always sparkling and with great comic timing, held the play together and advanced the narrative effectively. Kelly Steed, as Joanna’s friend Linda, was, as always, a joy to watch and her attempts to “get together” with her intended extra–marital dalliance were well-portrayed. Her husband, played by Peter Lambert, was trying to meet up with a telephonist and his lascivious nature was brought out well. The interior designer, Alistair Spenlow, played by Damian Marsh, the master of the facial expression, was aiming to spend the night with the au-pair, Sylvie, played with a very convincing accent by Georgina Smith. The smaller roles of Walter Pangbourne and Miss Wilkinson were played by Trevor Lord and Jenny Spurrett and both did well at being drunk and naked respectively! Into this chaos came Olive Harriet Smythe, a strait-laced dog lover, whose publishing contract is sought after by Markham and Lodge. This was a strong performance by Geralyn Lambert, dominating the last section of the play.
The set was effective, providing all the necessary entrances and exits and also showing the doubtful décor introduced by the interior designer. The play itself was perhaps slightly dated and not always “PC” but the company did a really good job in ensuring that it was never offensive and made for a very entertaining evening.