By Eric Chappell
Comedy, directed by Noel Harris
They were bereft when Dave Thursby unexpectedly popped his clogs. As they gathered for his funeral, what were his wife, agent and gag writer to do without the hugely successful TV comedian as the centre of their lives? Worse, they may be out of a job – so it was time to cash in with repeats, TV specials, biographies and newspaper tell-alls. But who was the mysterious woman? What did she know about Dave that they didn’t? And when the dust settled, did Dave get the last laugh?
Wife After Death was a sell-out success!
Cast and Crew
Dave Thursby Himself
Laura Thursby Jane Foster
Harvey Barrett Mel Morgan
Vi Barrett Sharon Laws
Kevin Prewitt Ian Brown
Jane Prewitt Kate Perry
Kay Lauren Milsom
Production Manager Mary Morgan
Set Design Mel Morgan
Set Construction The Chipstead Players Construction Crew
Stage Manager Andy Mills
Lighting John Gallagher
Sound Jon Laws
Props Linda Hall, Sandie Kirk, Ginette McMorrow
Furniture/Set Dressing Anne Franks, Clare Sparshatt,
Wardrobe Janet Bennett, Lorraine Bygraves
Prompt Margaret Ramsdale
Reviewed by Theo Spring, Croydon Advertiser 23rd February 2015
It is only at the tail end of Act I that we meet everyone in the cast and thus the high comedy which kicks off right from curtain-up is in the hands of married couple Vi and Harvey Barrett. Mel Morgan and Sharon Laws kept the laughter coming, often with snappy one-liners, holding the stage with dialogue which denoted a long marriage.
Harvey writes comedy for Dave, the comedian, and they have been working together for years. As the curtains open, Dave is seen lying in an open coffin and as the play evolves, much is revealed about his life – little of which was suspected and all of which affects everyone who comes to his funeral and, later, to the scattering of his ashes.
In an outrageously ostentatious black veil, over a slinky black strappy dress, Laura is Dave’s widow,. She has led the good life due to Dave’s wealth and is determined to give him a wonderful send off. Oozing charm, Jane Foster makes her a cross between brittle and vulnerable, losing all her airs and graces in Act II as Dave’s many peccadilloes slowly come to light. One of these peccadilloes is Jane Prewitt, married to Kevin, Dave’s manager. Initially shy and retiring, Kate Perry turned her round to be a believable ‘squeeze’ in the stationery cupboard and deliverer of home truths to her husband. Ian Brown’s slightly nervous Kevin, hesitant to view the body, dissolved from his certainty of remaining Dave’s agent to insecurity as he learnt of his wife’s betrayal and listened to her hash words.
Add to those grieving for their husband/friend, unaware of the bomb shells awaiting them in Act II, it is the arrival of Kay who finally causes the biggest explosion. Lauren Milsom created a funny provocative character, who kept her powder nicely dry whilst subtlety hinting that all was not quite what it seemed.
Playwright Eric Chappell’s script bursts with comedy – more so in Act I than in Act II where the emphasis is more on actions than words, and this cast took every opportunity to underline the humour.
Mel Morgan’s beautifully designed set defined gracious living, although I felt the furnishings were a little sparse with just the two armchairs. The availability of at least one other seat may have meant slightly less need in Act I to walk about when delivering lines.
As The Chipstead Players chalk up their 90th year of presenting amateur drama it fell to Noel Harris to make his debut as director of the piece. Well rehearsed and flowing with laughter, he and his cast seem to have enjoyed both the preparation and the presentation of this cheerful bright show.