Review: Old Tupton Chapel Players’ night of one-act plays

If it’s laughter you’re after, check out a hat-trick of one-act plays presented by Old Tupton’s Chapel Players.

This week the company are maintaining its proud tradition of reviving creations that have been lost in the mists of the time.

Back Row, left to right; Linda Munton, Andrew Bradley, Matthew Joynes, Colin Sorrell, Sally  Mason, Kathleen Sorrell, Elaine Hicks; middle row: Ann Walters, Sharon Freeman and Bethany Higgon (front).

Back Row, left to right; Linda Munton, Andrew Bradley, Matthew Joynes, Colin Sorrell, Sally Mason, Kathleen Sorrell, Elaine Hicks; middle row: Ann Walters, Sharon Freeman and Bethany Higgon (front).

Philip Johnson, a prolific playwright whose work was popular in the Forties and Fifties, is the author of two-thirds of this week’s bill.

Ronald Gow, best known for the play Love On The Dole, is the writer of the the third comedy which the company is performing 30 years after staging his Ma’s Bit O’Brass.

There’s two new faces in the ranks. Sharon Freeman’s baptism of fire sees her in all three offerings and her flair for comedy makes her an asset to the company. Her roles range from a Russian crook, complete with real chihuahua tucked her under arm, and bossy mum of a scantily-clad star to a busybody neighbour.

The other newcomer is Elaine Hicks who makes an equally great entrance to the company as a bossy newspaper reporter determined to get her story at all costs.

Andrew Bradley, a familiar face on the Tupton stage, appears in each play, switching characters with consummate ease as he plays a Russian criminal, a husband in need of a bit of excitement and a royal servant.

Of the three plays, April Dawn, by Philip Johnson gets my vote as the star. turn Leading lady Sally Mason excels in her characterisation of the houseproud wife whose husband wins a newspaper competition offering him the choice of a night out with a scantily-clad pin-up or £100. Linda Munton adds to the comedy as the chatty, colourful neighbour married to a dullard nicknames Mis (short for Misery) in a hilarious performance by the play’s director Matthew Joynes.

Sally is back playing another busy housewife in Grannie’s A Hundred by Ronald Gow. This mirth-laden offering sees a family desperately trying to keep secret the fact that the Queen is making a royal visit to their street on the day that the oldest resident in their house becomes a centenarian. Ann Walters heads the cast as the headstrong Grannie with a secret of her own, giving a convincing portrayal of old age and the experiences which come with it in this play directed by Matthew Joynes.

The evening opens with the most unusual play of the three, Russian Salad by Philip Johnson. An MP’s wife is desperately craving a bit of excitement which arrives in the guise of a vacuum cleaner salesman who is not what it seems. A couple of colourful Russian crooks and a gun appearing through a window makes this a dream of a play. Colin Sorrell and Ann Walters head the cast as the MP and his bored wife in this play which is directed by John Harrop.

Each play is set in a different decade and the backstage crew do a marvellous job in swapping furniture, pictures and trinkets to suit changing fashions and reflecting the various households.

The players’ production continues its run at the Old Tupton Methodist Church schoolroom until Saturday, April 25, at 7.15pm.

Great value entertainment for the price of £5 per adult and £1 per child or student.