Coronation Fever – Review

Review taken from Western Gazette:

KEEP Calm and Carry On.

The much imitated wartime poster was part of the backdrop as the Monkton Players brought some Coronation Fever to the stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (October 29-31).

And as you would hope and expect, things were anything but calm as the Players staged their latest comedy caper.

The King is dead and in the Somerset parish of Wintercourse Frequent, villagers are preparing to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the second.

Like a mirror image from more than 60 years earlier – the set presented the scene of a village hall in 1952 back to the large audience.

While we sat on modern plastic chairs, the cast perched on period folding wooden items as they convened around the trestle to discuss impending festivities.

Some fresh faces joined established Monkton Players as the cast made their entrances.

After a break of a couple of years, Adam Hiscock made his tenth appearance – this time as the Rev Jeremy Tongue.

He desperately tries to hold court with the larger than life parishioners while his wife Edna, played by Debbie Arscott, takes careful notes – and keeps watch on her husband’s roving eyes.

Newcomer Jo Collard is strict guide leader Miss Bunty Goodbody, who becomes locked in a battle for her unit to take supremacy in the showfield over Roger Darling’s (Tony Barratt) scouts.

She also has to cope with the amorous advances of frisky Major Peregrine Payne, played ebulliently by Terry Joiner. The latest in the long line of Paynes who have inflicted themselves on battlefields around the world, it is his duty to be the “Payne in charge” of proceedings.

He is also distracted by Miss Marilyn Bedworthy (Charlotte Hazelwood), who dreams of bringing some classical acting to the village with a series of historical vignettes. These ambitions give her and the characters the chance to carry off some engaging monologues in the second act.

The odd few lines of Shakespeare are brief counterpoint to what was most definitely a lively farce, with the Players delivering plenty of gags, verbal and physical.

There is nothing quite like batty WI member Gladys Gribble’s off key singing of Jerusalem to bring the audience back to earth. Sue Peachy’s experience on the stage was apparent as she made her debut with the Players.

The apparent confines of a drama based around two committee meetings does nothing to stop the cast and crew exploring all the comic potential of Vince Jones’ script under Tim Hiscock’s lively direction.

Not least when accident prone electrician Maurice Sparks (Tony Hiscock) and his son Reggie (Tom Norton) appear. Their casting is not without a touch of irony as they are regulars of the Players’ backstage team – though with much better success than the hapless pair they play in Coronation Fever.

With some deft technical execution both acts end in disaster for the pair, with other members of the cast caught in their hilarious bungles. First they try to bodge the village hall electrics, then they attempt to repair the roof.

It leaves the audience wondering if the vicar’s hopes of outdoing the village over the hill with his Coronation festivities will be fulfilled.

But there is no doubt Coronation Fever was another slick success for the players and earned the warm reception and plaudits given by the audience.

Carry on.

Coronation Fever was staged by the Monkton Players at Monkton Heathfield village hall from October 29-31.

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