ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

SEE HOW THEY RUN by Philip King Director: John Dewsnap Dukinfield A.D. & O.S. This evergreen 1945 play is as funny as when it was first staged. It is life in the “farce” lane with plenty of mayhem and confusion, mis identity and, of course, that soupçon of sauciness that is the hallmark of a good farce.. The script is beautifully engineered. All the action takes place at the vicarage in the parish of Merton cum – Middlewich. The box set depicting the Reverend Toop’s lounge was well designed. It had all the necessary entrances and exits, and the all-important cloakroom (in which characters would be dumped). The set dressing gave evoked the right period to the proceedings. The lighting and sound designs by Steven Hartley & Phil Steele respectively, added much to the drama. The character presentation reinforced to time period placing the piece clearly in the 1940s. The direction kept to the rules of comedy. The pace never flagged; the cross-purpose dialogue was crisply delivered. Every member of the cast projected and there wasn’t one dip in the pace. If the audience missed one gag the next was on its way. Parlour maid Ida (Denise Bradbury) announces to the Rev. Toop that Miss Skillon has arrived to see him. This begins the quivering mountain of confusions. The teetotal spinster of the parish wishes to know why she has been upstaged in the harvest festival celebration by Mrs Toop. What ensues is a comedy feast. Ann Hill, as Miss Skillon, extracted everything from the role. Her rival and arch enemy is Penelope Toop. Katy Cullen was well cast as the public trouser-wearing vicar’s wife. Katy clearly knows her way around a script. A former actress, Mrs Toop meets up with fellow thespian, Clive Winton, played straight from the Rank Charm School by Andrew Cochrane. As he is a Lance Corporal he has to disguise himself for a night out with Penelope. He wears one of Lionel Toop’s suits and dog collar. Then enter The Bishop of Lax who is in a total state of confusion. Dave Morris showed dignity as the Bishop: even in the chase he kept up his persona. The next vicar to immerge is relief vicar, Arthur Humphrey. Stuart Harris-Heffer brought every cliché possible in creating the role of Mr Humphrey. It was a most enjoyable character study. To complete the company of vicars, an escaped German prisoner takes Lionel’s clothes, including his dog collar, by gun point. Paul Whitworth spent most of his time as the Rev Toop in chase in his under-garments all adding to the confusion. The play’s title come from the nursery rhyme, “Three Blind Mice” and we all enjoyed seeing the characters run, in one door and out another. The character of the German intruder is mostly under played. Scott Lees pulled out every stop with facial expressions extending the dialogue as the escaped villain. This went down very well with the audience. Everything was brought to a standstill with Sergeant Towers (Tim Butterworth) who, with his men, were in pursuit of the German. All this serious ensemble playing was nimbly executed, proving that team work wins every time.