Steph Hamer reviews the Fandale farce by WCP

We Found Love And A Set Of Exquisite Porcelain Figurines Aboard The SS Farndale
performed by Waterbeach Community Players
by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr.
directed by Julie Petrucci

I have to admit to being a Farndale Avenue virgin, although I have been aware of the comedy series for some time. It was a pleasant change to see something fresh for the first time and I came away at the end with aching sides from so much laughter!

Well done WCP for pulling off the most appallingly acted play I have ever seen!! It is no mean task to act badly on purpose - it requires competent actors, good timing and absolute focus. As soon as I entered the auditorium I was welcomed effusively by the loud and indomitable Mrs Phoebe Reese, chairperson of the Farndale Avenue Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society, and her fawning crew.

The evening starts with a double booking of the stage with local DJ ( coolly played by James Dowson) assisted by Rock Chick (Jane Stewart, looking incredibly young and trendy!) which causes stress and confusion from the start. But the show must go on and Mrs Reese gets her own way. With only four cast members, Phoebe Reese's production of a romantic comedy aboard the luxury cruiser SS Farndale Avenue has 13 characters!! Phoebe plays five herself with her side kick Felicity Makepeace also taking on five characters, leaving Thelma Greenwood to play a famous movie star and Gordon Winterbourn as the debonair composer.

Cath Perkins (the downtrodden Felicity) showed amazing adaptability and adept quick costume changes as she took on lots of different guises from Flapper girl to the Vicar with various subservient characters in between at everyone's beck and call. Her ever-increasing bleeding wound was hilarious! Rosie Wilson (Thelma) relished the role of the glamorous film star and showed the true temperamental character of Thelma. David Morris played ham actor Gordon who had to stand in for Sylvia Frobisher in Scene 1 complete with flapper dress and then took the role of Noel Nightingale (a famous composer). But to my mind Caroline Blair, as the bossy, loud Mrs Reese, stole the show! She took on two male roles (as Phoebe!) in comical wigs dominating the stage with complete credibility as Phoebe Reese believing she was portraying these characters with great aplomb.

The whole thing was a complete farce, the embarrassing silences on stage waiting for Phoebe or Felicity to re-enter dressed as someone else (usually from the wrong side!!), the quick changes in the wings were hilarious, particularly when Phoebe couldn't get out of her lobster costume and entered as Beauregard (leading romantic male) with a waistcoat over the scarlet clawed lobster outfit complete with silver wig. One of my favourite moments was when poor Gordon drank the disgusting cocktail created by Phoebe playing the ship's steward this time with a bald comb-over wig!

The entire evening was utterly ridiculous and the best piece of bad acting I have ever seen!! Well done to everyone - a thoroughly entertaining evening, complete with the lovely underwater scene for which WCP is famous. Oh and I must just mention the Albatross (well done Christine Easterfield!). I could go on and on - you will just have to look out for the next Farndale Avenue farce and come along and see it for yourselves!

The art of coarse acting is to make it real and not to overdo it - and WCP, under the competent direction of Julie Petrucci, certainly pulled it off!! Well done everyone!!!

Waterbeach Theatre Company
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Waterbeach School
Cambridge CB25 9JU

Phone: 01223 880023

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