The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
July 5, 6, 7 & 8, 2000
by Neil Simon
Margaret Pierce – Christine Bevans
Tony Allen – Ken Bevans
Judith Berrill – Claire Cummings
John Garland – Leonard Cummings
Margaret Ockenden – Cookie Cusack
Ralph Dawes – Earnest Cusack
Olive Smith – Cassie Cooper
John Robinson – Glenn Cooper
Peter Thompson – P.C. Conklin
Michelle Wragg – W.P.C. Casey
Assistant Director – Joan Bearman
Stage Manager – Dave Collis
ASM – Marc Lewis
Set Designer – Amanda Evans
Lighting Design – Trevor Langley
Effects – Simon Snelling
Set Construction – Brian Box
Set Construction – Dave Comber
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – Mike Davy
Set Construction – Marc Lewis
Set Construction – Mark Flower
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Painting – Frances Thorne
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Press & Publicity – Judith Berrill
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Press & Publicity – Frances Thorne
Box Office & Front of House – Margaret Murrell
Programme Note #1: Rumours
BD wrote: “I read a copy of Rumours and instantly knew it was a play written for a Wick production.
You do not have to worry whether you can understand the plot or feel depressed – just sit back in your chair and enjoy with us, every wonderful moments of Rumours go home feeling on top of the world.”
Review #1: Rumours
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: July 13 2000 issue – page 20
Reviewer: Stephen Critchett
Text Header: “Laugh a minute as Charlie gets bullet”
GOSSIPING guests at an anniversary party coupled with the host’s accident with a shotgun ensured Wick Theatre Company’s skilful production of Neil Simon’s Rumours drew plenty of laughs. Energetic and humorous portrayals from all the cast against an impressive set showing a plush London home kept Barn Theatre onlookers amused and made sure there was never a dull moment in this rib-tickling farce. The first two guests arrive at ‘Charlie and Viv’s’ 10th anniversary party only to find after much tomfoolery and with other couples arriving, Charlie has done himself a near-fatal mischief with a gun. But friends with problems of their own turn up and try to keep each other from the awful truth, with hilarious results.
Among the show-stealers was tax inspector Leonard Cummings played by John Garland and his haughty wife Claire [Judith Berrill], who arrive at Charlie and Viv’s after he manages to crash his new BMW. Ken and Christine Bevans [Tony Allen and Margaret Pierce] are already there and the debacle is already unfolding with them wondering who to tell and how. The harassed Bevans, first to arrive at the ‘party’, were played to perfection and set the scene for the ensuring buffoonery well with their initial concern developing into near despair.
Cookie Cusack [Margaret Ockenden] is next to arrive with her husband Ernest [Ralph Dawes] in tow and her constant carping and outrageous outfit was the source of much amusement. Parliamentary candidate Glen Cooper turns up with his wife Cassie and she wastes no time in telling everyone about his high-jinks while poor Charlie is crashed out in his bedroom with a bullet wound. Suspicious copper PC Conklin, played by Peter Thompson, and his able sidekick PC Casey [Michelle Wragg] kept audiences guessing right up to the end.
Directed by Betty Dawes, Rumours certainly lived up to its pre-show billing as the side-splitting success of the season.
Review #2: Rumours
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: September 2000
Reviewer: Kevin Isaac
In doing this review, I would like to split the play from the performance.
First the play. It tried very hard to be a farce; energy, noise, embarrassment, mistaken identity etc, but unfortunately, for me, it failed on the following key areas;
1. There was no central character continuously digging themselves deeper into the mire with an ever more absurd tissue of lies.
2. There was no ‘dupe’ to aid this central character and who ultimately digs him/her out of the mire.
3. The was no ‘clown’ who whilst not being central to the story, creates the humour.
4. Too much of the humour was in the dialogue. For me a farce succeeds through humorous use of absurd situations rather than funny dialogue. Each character should play his/her lines straight.
What was left in the play was a continuous list of quick fire ‘joke’ lines that strived to keep the laughs coming. Very similar to the American sit-com Friends. The similarity became more obvious when I learnt that the play was originally written and set in America. Saying all that, I did enjoy the performance. It was very funny, especially during the first act. Unfortunately, it peaked at the interval and the lines were not so consistently funny in the second act. I also found it difficult to understand why everyone was trying to cover up something that was not important to him or her.
As for the actors, there was a lot of very strong performances and all of the couples worked well and were believable. Whilst not wanting to single out any individuals [and not wanting to create an obvious list in a vain effort to please everyone] I must say that I enjoyed Margaret Ockenden’s ‘Cookie Cusack’, a lovely funny performance of an overworked and slightly potty lady. I also enjoyed the interaction between Judith Berrill [‘Claire Cummings’] and John Garland [‘Leonard Cummings’], their childish bickering provided most of the highlights in the first act. Finally the conclusion was well played out by John in the style he is now becoming noted for. The remainder of the cast all put in strong performances and maintained a high level of energy and enthusiasm throughout the play.
I must mention the set design, as it was amazing that so many features of the inside of a house could be fitted into the set without making it feel cramped. The different levels and types of entrances gave depth to the set and added realism to the play.
In summary, though the play itself did not quite work for me in that I think it was trying to be something [farce] that it could not be, I enjoyed the performance, so congratulations to everyone involved.[/showhide]