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Past Performances

Black Comedy



Brindsley Miller – Alan Marks
Carol Melkett – Anne Ansell
Miss Furnival – Sara Hooley
Colonel Melkett – Charlie Blanning
Harold Gorringe – Richard Hall
Schuppanzigh – Simon Bartlett
Clea – Tamsin Blackmore
Georg Bamberger – Robert Loosley

Directors – John Thorogood and Marion Silverlock

Stage Manager – Christine Dubery
Lighting – Steve Hall
Sound – Simon Williams
Props – Debbie Passmore
Make up/costumes – Liz Stanbury and Lesley Mercer
Prompt – Jackie Leighton-Boyce
Set Building – Christine Dubery, Simon Williams, Richard Lock

Souvenir Programme – Tom Lock

Front of House and Bar – Cynthia Sharpe, Debbie Wright, Gavin Sharpe, Tom Lock, Mary Jackson, Lesley Mercer, Harley Jackson, Suzanne Thompson, Nick Thompson, Deborah Bean, Sylvia Thwaites, Nick Thwaites, Kate Ansell

A black comedy lights up Dulverton

“Professional, they are”. “Impressive”. “Stunning”, are just some of the words 350 theatre goers in Dulverton were using at the exits last week. In a four night run of Peter Shaffer’s ‘Black Comedy’ the Players hit the high spots of earlier years when plays like The Anniversary, Oh What a Lovely War, and a Man for All Seasons were part of their thrice yearly repertoire.

A tough play to get right, predicated on performing in the dark (though the audience can see everything) the Players kept the quickfire script taut, the falling about in the dark hilarious, the furniture and trap door near misses sidesplittingly funny.

Different audiences, different nights, fell about as Brinsley Miller, played by experienced actor Alan Marks, broke Buddhas, lamp standards and himself. The next evening camp Harold Gorringe (Richard Hall) brought the house down with every wriggle and flap. Gruff Colonel Melkett (Charlie Blanning) with his preference for acronyms “B.E. = basic efficiency”, “N.O. = no organisation”, and narrow minded decency, had Saturday’s full house rolling about.

The love interest, double entendres, and mistaken identities were carried by two brand new female stars, Anne Ansell and Tamsin Blackmore. You would not have known that neither had been on stage before. One the snotty, simpering debutante, all legs and miniskirt, the other a purring trollop, all legs and nightshirt, both wronged in love, employing their dubious feminine wiles to cringing effect. This play recognises many of our stereotypes. John Thorogood and Marion SilverLock, co-Directors, brought out every nuance in the worst of our human behaviours.

Right in the middle while everybody is groping about, Miss Furnival (Sara Hooley) bursts on the scene with a drunken diatribe against supermarkets and modern life. She’s been imbibing gin (not) by mistake for bitter lemon. Every night audiences were spellbound as Furnie exited stage left, completely plastered, as they burst into applause. As a local surgeon remarked on the way out, the DTs are always played best by teetotals!

Friday night brought a standing ovation, and not for the acting alone. The Players eschewed the traditional box set for an open stage on two floors, a clever bedroom upstairs for secret shenanigans, and a perfectly ghastly, gaudy, authentic 60s sitting room with a sculptor’s studio behind. There is even a trapdoor for the German electricity repair man (Simon Bartlett) and the millionaire art collector (Robert Loosley) cleverly accented and mistaken for each other, to fall into and get shut away at various moments as the play comes to a climax.

As they entered Dulverton’s stylish and historic Town Hall playgoers were invited to stock up at the bar. There would be no interval. The show would be 90 minutes straight through. “Just right” Mayor Chris Nelder; “How did the time flash by like that” chemist Mary Proffitt, said as they left, entertained by this Dulverton revival.

And at the final bow the audience were also invited to turn their applause to the lighting box. Christine Dubery, Steve Hall and their team had staged a gem of co-ordinated trickery. When the stage lights were on it was pitch black for the actors. Whenever a match, a torch, a taper, or lighter was lit, the cast were plunged into shadows. When the stage lights were out, the actors moved about confidently, as though they could see clearly. It’s a Shaffer masterpiece. This cast managed their movements and their unseeing eyes for 90 minutes as though they were really in a blackout, groping through the pitch darkness at each other, doing all those things humans do when we think we can’t be seen!

The colourful Souvenir Programme, put together by 18-year-old Tommy Lock, is another step up in quality by the Dulverton Players. The 20 students who attended free on the first night continues the Players support for the town’s young people and their threatened youth club. Simon Williams, sound and photography; Lesley Mercer and Liz Stanbury, costumes and make up; Jackie Leighton-Boyce, prompt; Angela Balsom and Joolz Doncaster, artworks; Richard Lock and Darren Rogers, carpentry and carpets; Debbie Passmore, props; and 22 front of house and backstage supporters indicate this troupe is really going places.

When many community organisations are struggling for support among the pressures of modern life the immediate future looks promising for Dulverton and its Players.

Next up in their ambitious development programme are Cinderella, a Murder Mystery Wedding with a wedding breakfast in the church, the Xmoor Factor talent show, and next autumn the ambitious Calendar Girls, the license already purchased. Enquiries to 01398 341 850

Editors: for further information contact Leslie Silverlock
lesliesilverlock@groupswork.com 07831 711380.


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Dulverton on Exmoor.

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