RICHARD Harris’s 1979 Outside Edge was the play chosen by MADS to mark their 70th anniversary.
The popular and much-performed cricketing comedy is the story of a cricket club whose members are trying to win a match at the same time as sorting out their marital machinations. It’s played in real time with a scorer marking up the runs.
Bob Modlen’s production in Mere makes clever use of the Lecture Hall, as the players walk through the audience from the clubhouse (on stage) to the wicket, adding to the immediacy of the story.
The ten-strong cast – the players and their womenfolk – unfold their stories of their lives over the course of a summer Saturday from 1 to 5.30pm. Like so many comedies of its time, Harris’s play has many laughs, but lots of them bitter.
As with all amateur theatrical companies, the choice of play can be limited by the available cast, but in these days of gender-blind casting and suspensions of disbelief of sometimes gargantuan proportions, clearly Mr Modlen was undeterred by his company.
Specifically, Penny Allen, who gives a barnstorming performance as Kevin’s wife Maggie, could hardly have been more improbably cast. The script CONTINUALLY refers to her size. She describes Kevin as “her little Kev” and he’s played by the hunky Matt Glide, who even mentions that her sister is “even bigger, magnificent” He towers over the diminutive Penny, and putting her in a vast faux-fur coat (in high summer with someone sun-bathing on set) does nothing to sort the problem. Why not just drop the references to her size?
This and other jarring discrepancies with the script simply detracted from the progress of the story.
Allan Glide was a lovably well intentioned Bob and Jon Noble a marvellously convincing all-purpose creep, with Matt Glide as the star bowler with a hurt finger, and Ollie Cooper the supercilious Ales.
Rose Heesom is the downtrodden Miriam, with Juliet Booth as “the second wife” and Laura Coward as a disco dancer whose costume was simply unbelievable.
At the centre of the proceedings is Roger, the self important team captain. I know that this is an amateur production, but I can only hope that David Lamb masters his lines, at least those in the all- important denouement with his wife, by the time you are reading this. Any pace whipped up by the fast bowlers was completely lost.