Cruise Missile/Alternative Accommodation, Bradford Players at Bradford-on-Tone Village Hall

BRADFORD Players have had their share of tribulations in the last few years, so it was good to see them back in action and restored to something like their best form at their recent double-bill at the Village Hall. The pair of fairly gentle but lively comedies were sensibly chosen with a view to the venue’s resources and the society’s casting requirements, and make for a pleasing evening.

Cruise Missile by, as I later discovered, Jean McConnell (the omission of the authors’ names from the programme is a rather glaring oversight) is a slight but enjoyable piece about the encounter of two women on a cruise liner. Charlotte Briggs as the loud, brassy, overbearing Goldie who won’t take no for an answer, and Alison Jenkinson as the quiet, sensible (if not especially intellectual) Janet who ingeniously rids herself of her tormentor without being rude, are well cast and make their most of their contrasting comic opportunities (though Ms Jenkinson seems strikingly well-preserved to be the mother of children in their twenties).

After an extended interval including supper (included in the very reasonable ticket price), we had Alternative Accommodation by Pam Valentine, dealing with three forty-something siblings’ attempt to sort out their recently widowed mother’s life for her to their satisfaction if not hers, and her turning of the tables on them in a not totally unpredictable but well-handled fashion with plenty of humour and some nice one-liners.

Lynn Henden as power-dressing workaholic Joy, Richard Doyle as control freak Peter and (perhaps especially) Susan Garrett as Gemma, a not terribly together vicar’s wife whose random remarks regularly undermine the trio’s carefully worked-out strategy, are all excellent, and the physical contrasts between the three add to the visual fun. The plum part, though, is the elderly lady who very much knows her own mind and ends up not only disconcerting her children but leaving them in no doubt as to her competence; and Jane Dyer (in a lovely red dress) gives the performance of the evening, convincing the audience as well as her children of her incipient dementia before an equally convincing change of manner shows her decisiveness, authority and a mischievous sense of humour. The set is well-designed and Lionel Took’s direction adds some deft touches.



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