Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

rumours cast

Katy Ball as Cookie, Jenny Groome as Claire, Jessica Schneider as Chris, Joe Harper as Ernest and Stuart Wishart as Len


The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


It’s highly likely that at some time you will have seen a work by Neil Simon, even if you have not heard of him. Widely considered as one of the most prolific and respected playwrights of the 20th century, plays such as The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, and Lost in Yonkers, resulted in him winning numerous awards including four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour.

Simon is well known for his witty dialogue and revealing portrayals of modern life, yet despite its often humorous nature, the works also offer an insightful, if at times unrealistic commentary, on relationships and the challenges we face in navigating them. Many of his characters are drawn in their attempts to cover up their mistakes and the consequences of them. It's Simon’s way of highlighting the evolving complexity of us trying to save face and avoid embarrassment.

Rumours is great example; it’s a chaotic but well-crafted play that revolves around a dinner party hosted by a wealthy couple, but one obviously where things go hilariously awry. The hosts are missing, and the guests are left to cover up the situation, all leading to a series of incredulous misunderstandings and comedic mishaps.

The story begins with the imminent Dinner Party and the host Charles, someone we never get see, has inexplicably shot himself in the ear. Guests Chris and Ken, played brilliantly by Jessica Schneider and Richard Taylor have arrived and made the gruesome discovery. As other guests arrive and in an attempt to save face for poor old Chris, they elaborate on the reasons for his absence. 

Cassie and Glenn

Beth Grainger as Cassie, and Christian Davies as Glenn

First to enter the fray is Len and Claire played by Jennifer Groome and Stuart Wishart. Claire is the absent hostess's friend determined to get to the bottom of things while Mr Wishart added great physicality and comic timing to his role having to become more animated to the chaos as it unfolds around him.

Whilst some of the gags and jokes are now maybe a little dated, it was the energy of the performances that push the humour further. Joseph Harper as Ernest the therapist was a prime example of this. His relaxed demeanour eventually erupts into manic shouting much to the amusement of the some of the rest of the cast who were on the verge at corpseing over his intensity. Katy Ball as Cookie the Cook with Back issues, Beth Grainger as the glamorous Cassie, and Christian Davies as Glenn, all provide excellent support in their respective roles.

By the second act everyone is up to speed on the demise of their Dinner hosts, but then the police arrive in the form of Chris Kay as P.C Conklin, and Donna Abram as his sidekick. Whilst in the first act the guests are keeping the facts from each other, the ensemble are now in it together and are collectively keeping it from the police and their attempts to cover up the situation ramps the chaos to new levels. 

Although the play is a wild exaggeration of a situation devoid of any sensibility, it’s a great escape featuring the type of humour that made Fawlty Towers such a success. The production calls upon a large cast from the team who fully capture the spirit of Neil Simon's witty and complex play.  Under the direction of Tori Wakeman, The Nonentities have delivered a fantastic production of this fast paced comedy.

You may groan at some of the obvious gags, but with its well-timed action, clever dialogue, and the sheer hard work of this talented company you will be fully entertained. To 13-05-23.

Jeff Grant


The Nonentities

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