ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

POOLS PARADISE by Philip King Director: John Dewsnap Dukinfield A.D & O.S. In this production we revisit Merton-CumMiddlewick and the madcap goings on of the Rev Lionel Toop and his household. This play does not carry on from the author’s famous comedy “See how they run”. This time Penelope Toop dabbles in a football pools syndicate. Zany comedic complications arise when they win £20.000 which includes cavorting clerics losing their trousers. The set of the vicarage, the residence of Lionel and Penelope Toop, was not dismantled after the last production. It was, as before, very workable allowing a free flow for the action to take place. Lighting and sound by Phil Steels and Steve Hartley brought atmosphere and aided the actors to convey their hectic cross-purpose dialogue. All the costumes looked right for village life in the 1960s. Penelope is asked by their maid, Ida, to join the Pools syndicate run by her Willie. Denise Bradbury, as Ida, with her excitable non-stop impact could have benefited from a change in voice levels (maybe a little too excited at times). In saying that Denise worked so hard as the scatty maid. The audience chuckled at Ida’s situation, especially with her beau, Willie. Playing the droll Willie Briggs was Paul Whitworth proving less is more; the Stan Laurel bemused looks and slow thinking was laughter guaranteed. Spinster of the parish, general busybody, Miss Skillon, seeks for attention from the Rev Toop. She dislikes Mrs Toop and when Lionel trips over her bicycle and injures himself she becomes his nurse. Toop escapes her and Skillon hides his clothes and thus this is a cue for a hysterical catand-mouse chase to begin. Ann Hill’s portrayal of the formidable Miss Skillon was a joy to watch. She displayed such comic timing and took control stealing all her scenes. There were two visiting clerics, the Reverend Arthur Humphrey, who