by Mike Yeaman
Directed by Val Middleton-Egan
I wonder how many of us remember the first National Lottery draw that took place on Saturday, November 19th, 1994? I remember vividly queuing up, along with what seemed most of the town’s adult population, at my local superstore. Specially trained staff walked up and down instructing you how to fill in the numbers, assuring you that you could be the winner of the jackpot that evening and in hushed tones telling you to keep the numbers secret from all those around you as you didn’t want to share.
Then you found yourself hovering around the TV clutching that ticket, the excitement and expectation growing, you had already afforded yourself the luxury of planning what to do with the millions. The disappointment when that first number came out that dreams were shattered but you still had a chance of winning something, maybe even a tenner, but all too soon, everything became an anti-climax and that nothing would be coming your way. However, somewhere in the country, winning the jackpot has become a reality, and this play is about that very occasion.
Directed by Val Middleton- Egan, the assembled group was very reminiscent of the Caroline Ahern’s sitcom, “The Royale Family”. Nana is losing control – of her mind and her life. Forced to live with her daughter, Janice, and her feckless family, Nana is frustrated with how they live.
When her winning numbers come up on the Lotto, the family are ecstatic – until it becomes clear that Nana won’t disclose the ticket’s whereabouts – if she even knows herself, or even bought it in the first place. She wants changes made around the place before the family will get a share of the jackpot.
Margaret Williams played the lead role of Nana and right from the opening scene established her character of a forgetful pensioner, wearing an ill-fitting skirt that looked like she had it tucked in her knickers, and through the dialogue, we learn that she has been to the shops for bread five times already that day. Her interaction with the other family members was comedy gold, great timing and the colourful dialogue had the audience laughing. There were some fabulous scenes with Alfie Bousfield (Shane – the hapless boyfriend of her granddaughter) was totally rocking the punk look complete with multi-coloured “parrot” Mohican. The interaction and flirting between the pair of them was a hoot. There was also some charming pathos at the end of the play.
Victoria Worsley made her return, after twenty-one years, to the stage as Janice, the mother of the family. Poor Janice spends her time trying to please everyone while looking after the family which includes Nana, two children, a workshy husband and a lover, Mick. Victoria looked very comfortable in her portrayal and gave nice light and shade to the character from frantic, almost farce like, running around to the caring daughter.
Ian Tyler always impresses; he never fails to deliver an engaging performance. As husband Ronnie, he looked and acted like the Jim Royale character, sleeping on a couch looking like a layabout. Ian concentrated throughout the action and had great expressions even when he wasn’t involved in the dialogue. This has to be carefully done as, in the wrong hands, it could be seen as overacting. Scheming with a smile he orchestrated the plan to find the winning ticket that Nana has hidden.
Sarah Morgan gave a strong performance as the moody, Goth/Emo daughter, Lisa, who reluctantly takes part in the family’s plan. Completing the family line up was Sam Higgs. He seemed at home in the role of Steven, the teenage son, who plays on the computer all the time. At times projection of dialogue dropped but this will improve with experience, of that I have no doubt. His rap was excellent and was worth the applause.
Chris Jorgensson added to the chaotic madcap humour as the lover, Mick. The dialogue between him, Janice and Nana added to fun of the piece. The scene where he was in a sleeping bag had many of us tittering.
The set, designed by the director and constructed by Lee McGregor and his team was fabulous and very much appreciated by the audience. Most of the stage was a replica of a family living room with a door to the hallway, and the French windows and décor beyond added a sense of depth. The kitchen serving hatch was a great addition. It was big enough and provided a frame for us to watch the action taking place in that area. Some of the scene changes slowed the pace a little, and I did wonder if these could have been done by the actors placing the props, especially the early scenes. However, this did not really deter from the enjoyment of the piece, and the evening.
On returning home I eagerly checked my lottery numbers. Needless to say I am not retiring to a bungalow in Knot End, and have since bought another ticket. After all, “you have to be in it to win it”, as the saying goes.