Rehearsal, Wink Wink Theatre

STEVE McAuliffe, who moved to Wincanton four years ago, is a teacher as well as a published author and playwright, and his latest play, Rehearsal, was written specially for the newly-formed Wink Wink Theatre Company.

The troupe made its debut at King Arthur’s School in Wincanton on 22nd September, performing this six-(or more?)-hander set in a grand, crumbling and condemned old theatre.

To get the best out of this inventive play, you need to know a bit about Theatre and its Traditions. If you don’t know who Dan Leno was, or tales of Joan Littlewood or Peter Brook and their famous ways, you’ll miss lots of the humour. But that’s not to say it’s not funny in its own right.

It all starts when director Peter [Alex Chase] and his cast – newcomer (and niece) Millie [Hazel Perrett], Marjorie [Yseult Ogilvy], the least successful of a theatrical dynasty, Gabrielle [Sarah Nias] (aka The Black Widow because of the untimely deaths of SO MANY of her husbands), Dee [Iszy Harvey], the clairvoyant thesp, and Larry[John Clark], the Older ActOr – meet at the theatre to start rehearsals for Peter’s play-within-a-play-within-a-pantomime, much of which is still unwritten.

Steve McAuliffe depends on many of the most caricatured theatrical types in this one-acter, punctuated by a ticking clock to denote the passage of minutes, hours or even days.

The able Wink Wink actors flesh out the stereotypes in a convincing and hilarious way, demonstrating perfect timing and (mostly) diction and projection that fills even the main hall of the Wincanton school.  The clever repeating circle of the action adds to the spectral element of the piece, which perhaps needs a bit more work on the ending to bring it to a more satisfactory conclusion, but there is lots of excellent material here for a play that should, as they say in theatre, have legs.

It’s good to see such a promising new company emerge, directed as here by the versatile and talented Kate Kirkpatrick.


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