Alan Ayckbourn’s black comedies of everyday life always go down well with Pomegranate audiences, and Chesterfield Playgoers’ production of Ten Times Table last week was no exception.
Set in his familiar territory of small-town Middle England, it follows the organising committee of a historical re-enactment, from first meeting to big day, with painfully hilarious results.
Like all the best committees, they argued, squabbled and occasionally came close to open warfare – in fact it was a wonder anything was ever organised.
You had to feel sorry for harassed chairman Ray (Simon Gordon), trying to keep the peace between his opinionated wife Helen (Ruth Higginbottom), enthusiastic Sophie (Heather Beresford) and passionate Marxist Eric (Tony Keeton), while fussy local councillor Donald (Denis Wilmot) and his deaf, dotty mother (Rosalie Hoskin) went off at tangents, and dipsomaniac Laurence (I think it was Harry Goring under the dodgy wig and dodgier accent) couldn’t see further than his disintegrating private life.
Feelings ran even higher when ex-army Tim weighed in with his own agenda, mainly to do with Helen; and Eric’s taciturn girlfriend Philippa (Joanne Gordon) put a spoke in Sophie’s wheel.
On the big day, tight trousers, real gunfire and a large Russian from Slough found their way into the mix, and chaos even more frantic than the committee meetings inevitably followed. Not forgetting the horse. Best not to ask about the horse.
This was the best Playgoers production I’ve seen in a long time: fast, furious and very funny. The audience loved it too.