Vintage farce puts a different spin on VE celebrations with the initials signifying Very Entertaining as much as they do Victory in Europe.
The classic Second World War comedy See How They Run! is a triumph for Bolsover Drama Group which is mounting its 100th production this week.
Larger than life characters are caught up in scenes of mistaken identity, frantic chases in and out of doors or bundled into a cavernous cupboard. Bodies litter the stage in states of unconsciousness, either brought on by over-indulgence in alcohol or surprise acts of violence. At times, it gets very silly - but, hey, that’s part of the make-up of a good farce.
Timing is everything and the troupers had it bang to rights at the opening performance last night (Thursday, May 14) as cast members came in and out of doors right on cue.
It’s the fairer sex who drive this creation with some powerful performances from the female members of the cast. Louise Sutton excels as the American, a flamboyant, outspoken ex-actress in the unlikely position of being married to a vicar. Her spats with Ruth Bonner as prim parishioner make for great comedy in the first half. Ruth really grew into her role last night, her initial forgetfulness of lines disappearing as the more colourful side of her role play emerged in hilarious scenes of drunkenness.
Tracy Crowther makes an engaging maid Ida whose duties range from disposing of unwanted visitors to clearing away teacups.
Chris Peck flies the flag for the men in his role as a thespian pal of the vicar’s wife who swaps his army uniform for a clerical outfit so he can go out on the town with her. He does the comedy very well, playing his lance-corporal character as slightly awkward and slack-jawed.
Group chairman Mick Whitehouse as the vicar spends much of his time running around the stage in his underwear brandishing an iron bar. much to the amusement of the audience.
Fellow clerics are played by Dave Paddick and Ken Radmore, with Istvan Koszegi masquerading as a vicar in his role as he escaped German prisoner.
And a big shout-out too for Paul Holland in a cameo appearance as an army sergeant, a role he took on just three weeks ago.
Playwright Philip King wrote this farce a year before the war finished and it plays on the country’s fear of being overrun with foreigners. While the comedy is dated, it still provides laughs a plenty and a nostalgic look at life 70 years ago.
See How They Run! is directed by Janet Koszegi and continues its run at the Assembly Rooms, Bolsover, until Saturday, May 16, with performances at 7.30pm.