Biddulph Players’ A.D.S tackle Richard James’s play, Port Out Starboard Home, with gusto aboard the S.S. Adelphi in their latest offering at Biddulph Town Hall, directed by Celia Richardson.
A mis-matched set of passengers flung together ensues for a rollocking good yarn. Debutant Mandy Baldwin plays down-trodden, browbeaten, hypochondriac spouse Jackie Campbell, to Chris Wardle’s Brian. In her first stage role, Mandy shines with well versed comedic timing and brilliantly fluid delivery of her metamorphosis at the conclusion and takes the audience through the roller-coaster of emotions that pour out throughout the course of the evening. One has to re-read the accompanying programme as well as speak to members’ of the cast to believe that this is not only her Biddulph Players’ debut, but the first time she has trodden the boards, such was the quality of her performance. Indeed several people around me at both half-time and at it’s finale were remarking the same.
Chris Wardle plays the villainous husband Brian a role that he clearly relishes and has a penchant for, playing the Baron in the Biddulph Christmas Production and David Horton in Congelton Players’ Vicar Of Dibley in October 2013. His neat delivery of his characters’ bigoted outlook on life, his straight-faced delivery of some of the funniest lines in the play and his treatment of his spouse created the desired reaction, as the audience whooped and cheered when his inevitable comeuppance arrived.
Fresh aboard is Miriam, played by Susan Charity, who is no stranger to a cruise (albeit never disembarking) who drags her reluctant son Stuart onboard (Glyn Gant). Susan starred as the fairy godmother in the Biddulph Christmas Production and must have left some fairy-dust backstage as she glitters as the archetypal matriarch, flinging her unwitting and unwilling son into all manner of circumstances in order to get her chance to wear “this blooming hat” referring to her mother-of-the-groom wedding attire she brought some years back, that sits gathering dust. However, this couldn’t work without another Biddulph Panto star, Glyn Gant, ably deflecting and sometimes retorting at the overbearing mother hen. His comedic delivery of his lines and rosy-cheeked charming “Mum!” fits perfectly with Miriam and creates the chemistry that is so definitely needed to pull off that duo.
Add into the mix Amanda Thompson, TV actress, onboard doing a personal appearance, filling the void between jobs. Played by Tracy Turley fresh from a very recent performance of “Oh What A Lovely War”, but her first production here for Biddulph Players’. Tracy is excellent as an actress, enjoys a drink and all the attention that her career brings. Her chasing of mummies boy, Stuart is marvellous and her mannerisms, delivery, gait and pronunciation really get under the skin of the part!
The staff onboard the ship are entertainments officer Wayne, delivered superbly by Nick Wilson. Always around the thick of the comedic action delivering his laugh-a-minute double-entendres and a stage presence and energy that is quite infectious. His fractious comedic tete-a-tete with Brian Campbell whenever they meet onstage are perfectly versed. The finale is worth the entrance fee alone, although I won’t give that away!
The refreshments are served by Alexandro, played by Gareth Ekin, who along with Mandy Baldwin, is also taking to the boards for the first time. Which is quite co-incidental that much of the Alexadro’s action centres around the both of them. Whilst the smallest role of the speaking-cast, it delivers one of the biggest laughs of the evening with his portrayal of your traditional foreign waiter’s conversation with a vulnerable female tourist. The chemistry between the two is clear and all credit to both for their straight-faced delivery.
Robert Pope, Ann Pope, Sue Porter and Chloe Findlay all play non-speaking passengers aboard the ship, however, they are certainly not there to make up the numbers. They are very much part of the main action. The limbo dancing scene is pulled off with great enthusiasm and humour and a special mention to Whirling Dervish herself, Mrs. Havers!
Be sure to catch this show at Biddulph Town Hall, there are laughs aplenty and a wonderful group performance, which runs upto and including Saturday 10th May. Tickets available on the door, or by ringing 07896 321737.