A night of sublime madness
A Handful of Laughs
Moorpool Hall, Harborne
AN evening of sublime inanity, its brightness dimmed only by the substantial gaps that are part of this bill of five plays by Michael Green, finds 15 players presenting 35 roles and doing so quite splendidly. Did coarse acting ever have it so good?
At various times, we have the table that loses its legs, the actor who is blatantly reading his lines not very well, the voice that stands in for a failed doorbell, and the Noel Coward character who loses several armfuls of blood but tries to carry on declaiming.
This is the sanguinary centrepiece of Present Slaughter, with Mark Earey bleeding bravely while Laura King (Lavinia) does a very amusing solo tango. It is the last offering on the bill, the culmination of an evening of determined daftness that is deftly directed by John Healey. Was it he, I wonder, who decreed that one of the evening's characters should pronounce every S as sssh, on the grounds that she is eventually required to say, “I hate the sight of him.”
John warns in his notes that Last Call for Breakfast is the Players' first venture into the theatre of the avant-garde and that audiences have a habit of failing to understand it. It is time to report that I have just joined the club.
OUTSIZE SALT POT
The characters are He, She and Sugar Cube – with She played by Claire Osborne, who offers some reasonably bad ballet with He (Richard Quarmby) before she begins popping up out of an outsize salt pot to reveal the best voice of the night – effortlessly loud, perfectly clear, a pleasure to hear. She ensured that I didn't care that I didn't understand.
Elsewhere, we have had earlier sightings of Mark Earey as the police inspector in Streuth – in which Linda Robinson (Janet) scores full marks for knowing that there are only two Rs in drawing room – and as Vladimir Pederastovitch, otherwise known as Captain Sodov, in The Cherry Sisters, which is as near as we are going to get to Chekhov on this unpredictable evening of broad-brush comedy.
A Collier's Tuesday Tea brims bravely with
This is grassroots theatre to be treasured. A joy. To 15.5.10.