The Players have offered its loyal (and increasingly large) audience a varied fare of drama over the past year. Their production in October was no exception and comedy must have brought welcome light relief to the cast and crew following the brilliant but harrowing The House of Bernardo Alba and Murder in the Cathedral. Coming ‘indoors’ also made life for the stage crew easier after the well-received but technically difficult and strenuous production of The Merry Wives of Windsor staged in the Picture Gallery garden and Dulwich Park in the summer.
The venue, the Great Hall at Alleyn’s was new to the Players but not so to some of the older members of the audience who remembered Sir Donald Wolfit congratulating a young John Stride on his Hamlet and where Michael Croft’s embryonic National Youth Theatre first found got off the ground.
Long before The Play That Goes Wrong and its subsequent re-incarnations charting the trials and tribulations of staging both amateur and professional productions appeared, Michael Green provided a joyous tribute to the world of Am-Dram. Here, often, (but not in the Dulwich Players!), actors can ‘remember his (or her) lines, but not in the order in which they come.....or....one who remembers everyone else’s lines apart from his/her own’.
Jan Rae’s presentation was spot-on, and one suspects, quite difficult to achieve. The four playlets, Streuth, The Cherry Sisters, Pride of Southanger Park and The Vagabond Prince helpfully parody well-known works so the audience could mentally fill in the gaps. And there were some hilarious intended gaps to fill. Jenny Gammon admirably played the role of the embarrassing am-dram chairman introducing the plays, perfectly interrupted by an inebriated love-torn Stage Manager and competition from the parish bazaar, but ‘calmed’ by the impossibly optimistic vicar, Gill Daly. Stefan Norwak gave us a splendid interpretation of another cleric and Paul Sykes presented us with a nightmarish butler. A great evening was rounded off with a boisterous musical finale.