In A Chorus of Disapproval, which sends up the world of amateur dramatics, playwright Alan Ayckbourn indicates that people who love the theatre are pitied by others and fair game to receive sympathy cards.
Congratulations cards are more likely to be finding their way through the letterboxes of thespians who are presenting Aykbourn’s comedy in Hope this week.
Admiration sweeps from the audience to the actors who are tasked with presenting a play within a play by switching from mirth-laden comedy to light opera.
It’s a tall order but one which Hope Amateur Dramatic Independent Theatre (HADIT) measures up to as they serve up laugh after laugh and impress with some spot-on singing as they play performers who are preparing for a production of The Beggar’s Opera.
Every horror story that you can imagine in the world of amateur dramatics is contained in the storyline, from impassioned director who neglects his family and loses patience with his cast, tearful performers who bring domestic dramas to the rehearsal room, lusty married ladies who see a newcomer as fresh meat and love rivals scrapping at a practice session.
In one of the many gems contained in the script, the director announces that he wished his cast were professionals so he could sack the lot of them!
The fun even spreads to the technical side of the storyline with the lighting guy who messes up his sequences being on the sharp end of the boss’s frustration.
Paul Archer does a fabulous job as the workaholic Welsh director Daffyd who instills a love of amateur dramatics in everyone he meets but is ground down by the lack of talent and commitment by some of his company’s members.
It’s a show of two halves - literally - for this leading man whose role requires him to play the genial, encouraging company captain in one and a desperate director running up and down the aisle barking orders at an inept crew in the other.
Tim Smallwood is cast as newcomer Guy, a shy widower who has a meteoric rise from bit-part actor to leading man. He’s also a hit with the ladies and there’s a hilarious scene in which he’s invited to the home of a posh man-eater (a fabulous performance by Jo Elliott) for what he thinks is going to be just a few drinks and nibbles but he is in fact the main course for this sex-hungry siren! Guy ends up playing two ladies off each other after falling for the director’s neglected wife (played by Jenni Argent) and is embroiled in a corrupt land deal. End result? Come showtime, no-one is speaking to him!
Factor in a heartbreaker who really can sing opera - a standout performance by Jon Haddock - and two women scrapping for his attention (convincingly played by Fiona Johnson and Jane Bramwell) and this is one show you won’t want to miss.
With a production as good as this, expect a flock of people to be clamouring to join the ranks of HADIT any time soon.
A Chorus of Disapproval, directed by Carolyn Garwes with musical direction by David Garwes, continues it run at Hope Methodist Hall until Saturday, May 2. It’s a sell out this evening (Friday) but there’s still tickets available for tomorrow night’s show, which starts at 7.30pm.